TrendWatch Graphic Arts Offshoring Study Evaluates the Impact of Overseas Printing on the Domestic Printing Industry

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Outsourcing work to overseas companies is one of the most contentious and misunderstood economic issues today, both in and out of the printing industry. In the past 12 months, TWGA has conducted extensive research into this issue and has the data to quantify the threat and the opportunity that the offshoring trend presents to domestic firms, with the “360-degree” view of all the graphic arts markets that is the TWGA hallmark.

TrendWatch Graphic Arts today released its special report, “Offshore Printing: The Market for Overseas Print Providers,” which quantifies the extent to which U.S. content creators are outsourcing their print work to overseas providers. The 135-page report pinpoints exactly who is outsourcing print work, who is increasing their outsourcing, and how much work is being outsourced. The report also looks ahead 12 to 18 months and provides a forecast by graphic arts market of how much print work will be sent overseas.

The fundamental questions answered by “Offshore Printing: The Market for Overseas Print Providers” are, does the offshoring trend represent a threat or an opportunity for domestic printers? Or both? And how much of a threat or an opportunity is it? What types of print products are domestic content creators outsourcing? Is it for domestic or foreign distribution? Why are they outsourcing print production? Are there other mitigating factors that can lessen the threat or impede the opportunity? And what are the implications for printers, creatives, suppliers, and manufacturers?

The report looks at offshoring in the context of each of the graphic arts markets TWGA regularly surveys -- graphic designers, ad agencies, corporate design departments, book publishers, catalog publishers, magazine publishers, and print and prepress establishments. For each of these markets, the report asks, “Have you worked with an overseas print provider in the past 12 months?” “Does your company have any plans to work with an overseas print provider in the next 12 to 18 months?” “What percentage of your print work have you sent to an overseas print provider?” “How do you expect this volume to change in the next 12 to 18 months?” “What types of print work do you send to an overseas print provider?” “What are the primary reasons you chose to work with an overseas print provider?”

“Offshore Printing: The Market for Overseas Print Providers” draws on a variety of sources, including TWGA’s regular surveys of the graphic arts markets, TWGA’s voluminous 10+-year historical database of trends and changes in the industry, as well as U.S. government data and secondary research sources to provide a comprehensive look at the past, present, and future of offshoring.

TWGA reports are available for online purchase at the TWGA eStore in PDF format

According to the Report…

In Winter 2006, 48% of the corporate design departments that offshored print work said they did so for foreign distribution;

In Winter 2006, 30% of the design and production firms that offshored print work offshored packaging;

In Summer 2006, 86% of publishers that outsourced print work cited “cost” as the most important reason for doing so.


The TrendWatch Graphic Arts “Offshore Printing: The Market for Overseas Print Providers” report is available for purchase by visiting the secure TrendWatch Graphic Arts eStore online.

The price for the 135-page report is $995. TrendWatch Graphic Arts eStore customers can download this report in PDF Acrobat format immediately after purchase. An Executive Summary of this report is available for $99.


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Judie Ryer
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