The European printing industry is facing global market challenges. There is strong competition from third countries, in particular China and South-East Asia. In order to position itself strongly on this globalised market, the industry needs to take measures to emphasise its competitive advantages. In 2007, the European Commission published a study on the European graphics industry in order to outline the situation and possible actions to be taken.
In a constantly changing world of technological progress and consumer choice, the European printing industry is at the forefront of innovation aimed at meeting customer needs. Printed media are still the preferred choice of consumers but they now co-exist with other forms of communication, producing a rich mix of communication sources.
Printing companies are fully aware that an innovative product range is the best ally to ensuring the long-term competitiveness and adaptability of a whole sector to new market trends.
Full-colour management systems, together with the digitalisation of production processes themselves, enable substantial new quality standards to be introduced throughout the printing process. New market segments appear, making the printing industry a part of the wider "communications sector", complementing print with other "added-value services".
The most obvious examples are:
- the introduction of customisation features in print;
- the management of databases;
- the production of short runs and electronic storage for later runs;
- the production of electronic versions;
- cross-media publications;
- comprehensive communication solutions;
- web-based communication solutions;
- e-business solutions;
- routing and dispatch, storage facilities, etc.
As well as creating additional value for their customers, the incorporation of these new services adds a new dimension to print buyers' communication strategies.