Offshore Printing Gaining Ground; Newly Published Study Analyzes the U.S. Printing Industry's Growing Competition from Print Imports

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Strategies for Management has released “A Critical Look at Offshore Printing,” a comprehensive report analyzing the technological and economic dynamics and drivers of the latest challenge to the U.S. printing industry, competition from foreign printers who can often provide significant cost savings to U.S. print buyers. The global spread of the Internet and key production technologies, including digital prepress and full-color offset printing enable offshore printers to look beyond their borders for print work. The report is now available for purchase and download at http://www.sfminc.com, and includes password-access to a special update web site for the latest news and information about this critical issue.

Strategies for Management, Inc. has just completed its new research initiative, “A Critical Look at Offshore Printing.” The project was directed by leading printing industry commentator and forecaster Dr. Joe Webb, and advised by Mr. Vince Naselli, of Naselli & Associates.

The U.S. printing industry is experiencing increased competition from overseas printing firms. Until recently, offshore print quality, turnaround times, language/cultural issues, shipping costs and logistics all made submitting and managing cross-border print work difficult. Now, there are numerous technological and economic factors reducing the barriers U.S. print buyers experience sending work overseas.

“Offshore printing was not at the forefront of our research priorities,” said Dr. Joe Webb, president of Strategies for Management. “We first heard rumblings about the issue two years ago, but then in early 2004 we received an increasing number of reports from U.S. printers who complained about losing jobs to overseas printers, particularly those in China and India, so we decided to investigate further. We analyzed the historical print import/export data and saw the large U.S. trade surplus had eroded substantially since 2003, and the trend intensified in 2004.”

“It was clear to us that this was not just a passing trend experienced by a handful of U.S. printers, but an important and rapidly evolving industry development,” said Dr. Webb. “This study will allow printers to better understand the underlying reasons for this change, and be better prepared for this shift in the marketplace.”

Some of the findings in the research study include:

-- All print buyers interviewed for the report said “top-notch” offshore printers exhibit print quality levels that are “comparable” to U.S. print vendors.

-- Offshore printers have increased quality over the past few years, and thus confidence among offshore print buyers, through the combined adoption of press-calibrated digital proofers and computer-to-plate devices

-- Buyers find that the combination of Internet connectivity and PDF workflows make job submission and management with offshore vendors easier.

-- Overseas printers are doing more commercial work in runs up to 10,000 pieces and shipping jobs via air freight to reduce turnarounds.

-- Foreign printers are providing U.S. clients average price savings from 30% to 50% (including shipping), principally derived from lower labor costs.

-- Some offshore printers (especially in India) are offering graphic design services to capture commercial printing work.

“A Critical Look at Offshore Printing” also analyzes remaining production-related barriers to offshore printing, including extended turnaround times, practical run lengths (by product category), language issues, time-zone differences, as well as print products,processes and industry segments less threatened by offshore competition.

Economic topics covered in the report include import/export trade data for the main U.S. trade partners, especially China, which has increased its U.S. print exports by 243.9% since 1996, and India, an up-and-coming competitor because much of its workforce is well educated and fluent in English. Also covered are “nearshore” competitors in Canada and Mexico, as well as economic topics related to free trade, exchange rates, regulatory/copyright issues, and other topics.

There are also recommendations about how U.S. printers can successfully navigate and find opportunities in this growing global print marketplace. One recommendation is for domestic printers to be proactively involved in, or at least receptive to the idea of working with offshore printers.

“This way, if a printer discovers any customers who are evaluating the option of sending jobs overseas to save money,” said Dr. Webb, “at least then they'll be prepared for these situations and can still benefit from the other value-added services that can be built around these clients' needs.” In fact, he added, alliances with foreign printers may generate new customers for domestic printers in the form of overseas clients who want to expand into U.S. markets.

Priced at $2,875, the report can be ordered and downloaded at http://store.yahoo.com/drjoe/offshore.html
A CD-ROM with support data and materials will be mailed separately. Purchasers will receive a username and password for private access to a special web site that has additional information. The web site will be updated for the next six months with the latest news and data concerning this critical topic.

For more information, interested parties can e-mail Strategies for Management at offshore(at)sfminc.com, or can call Mr. Vince Naselli at 1-732-568-0316.

About Dr. Joe Webb

Industry commentator and forecaster Dr. Joe Webb is a 26+ year veteran of the graphic arts industry. He has served the industry as a consultant, executive, and the founder of the TrendWatch surveys. Dr. Webb's academic background is a combination of business, computer technologies, and graphic arts. His doctoral work was completed at the NYU Center for Graphic Arts Management and Technology. Dr. Webb has worked with industry suppliers of all types, including offset and digital press manufacturers, computer software and hardware developers, national and multinational organizations, associations, and others. A frequent speaker at industry events, Dr. Webb's weekly column “Fridays with Dr. Joe” appears at http://www.WhatTheyThink.com where it has become a must-read feature for the entire printing industry.

In December 2004, Dr. Webb received the prestigious Neil Richards Visionary Leadership Award from GAMIS, for his contribution to the growth and development of industry colleagues as a mentor and role model, his promotion of innovative and futuristic thinking, with a focus on the practical application of market information.

(Photos of Dr. Webb for editorial purposes can be downloaded at http://www.drjoewebb.com/press )

Dr. Webb is the author of “Renewing the Print Industry: A Contrarian’s Constructive Perspective.” A sample of that report can be downloaded from http://www.prweb.com/prfiles/2004/06/03/131251/renew_ind_toc&chap1.pdf

About Vince Naselli

Vince Naselli has 20+ years of professional experience in the graphic arts marketing industry and is the Principal of Naselli & Associates. He is a frequent contributor to WhatTheyThink.com and other leading industry publications. He has served as a past committee chairman of the Imaging & Prepress and Market Research subcommittees for the NPES market research program, one of the leading research trade associations in the graphic communications industries. He has also served as president and on the board of directors of GAMIS, the research trade association of the Printing Industries of America. Mr. Naselli speaks at numerous industry events about the trends in technology, business conditions, and the future of the imaging business. In previous professional roles, he served as Dealer Relations and Regional Sales Manager for Screen USA and was the Senior U.S. Marketing Manager for Agfa of market research and competitive analysis and concurrently was the Senior U.S. Marketing Manager for Apogee responsible for PDF workflow software and systems. He is the former Director of TrendWatch Graphic Arts. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and management from Kean University, New Jersey. His website is http://www.naselliandassociates.com/ His direct e-mail is vince(at)naselliandassociates.com

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