Print is at the heart of the creative industry revolution

Today, creative and cultural industries (CCIs) employ nearly 2.5 times more Europeans than the automotive industry. In fact, not only is the creative economy contributing 4.2% of Europe’s GDP[1], CCIs are Europe’s third-largest employer. But the rapidly moving landscape means it has to embrace a number of trends today in order to future-proof for tomorrow.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest trends is digital. Not only has digital disrupted the way we work, it has also spurred completely new business models – in terms of production, distribution and consumption – that integrate high-value content with technology. Digital proceeds have enormously driven the growth of the creative economy, adding €30billion to revenues in the past ten years alone[2].  This trend is set to continue into the future with digital presenting even more ways to consume and distribute creative products.

Secondly, customisation and personalisation is another big trend.  We have seen the advertising industry evolve from mass to direct and even micro-targeting, fuelled by the increased use of mobile devices. With digital technology and digital print perfectly primed to meet growing and varying consumer expectations, industries across the world are embracing the opportunity to attract and nurture customers in a more personal way. And with good reason: a Bain survey of more than 1,000 online shoppers found that 25% to 30% are interested in exploring customisation[3]. While it is hard to gauge the overall potential, if 25% of online sales of footwear were to include customisation, it would equate to a market of $2 billion per year[4]. 

Finally, although it’s been around for decades, 3D printing is another large driver of growth in the creative industry. End-user spending globally on 3D printers is set to increase from $1.6bn in 2015 to around $13.4bn in 2018[5] according to Gartner.  3D printing has revolutionised the way manufacturing and engineering companies are working by producing cheap, high-quality, one-off prototypes that speed product development and give fledgling start-ups and established brands the freedom and confidence to be more adventurous and imaginative with their new creations. On a grander scale, Rolls-Royce is preparing to actually flight test one of its jet engines fitted with what the company says is the largest component ever built using 3D printing[6]. 

It is startling to think that a single machine can now create vastly different products such as custom cases for mobile phones, vases, laptop stands or even vintage cars.  It’s this flexibility that opens up a huge wealth of opportunities for the CCI sector today and in the future.

Encompassing all of these trends within the growing sector of creativity is the value and opportunity of print.  Undeniably, print has always been at the heart of a number of core creative expressions- from posters and signage to packaging and photography -and within the supporting processes such as design, proofing and production. And when it comes to communication through content, print can play an invaluable role. People are actually less likely to read content in detail when received digitally (16%) than when it is printed (59%). In fact, research demonstrates that 88% of magazine readers have said they prefer print over digital.[7

But communication doesn’t have to be written. Where visual representations of an idea or piece of work are important, print can be vital. Imagine a fashion designer briefing a manufacturer on a new season’s designs; accuracy of colour and consistency of design - both in briefing and in proofing - is paramount. Or when photographers present their portfolio to picture editors or clients, they often depend on print to present their work because you observe process and interact with visual information in a different, more powerful way. So print can and must keep broadening its scope and become an integral part of the creative process. The realisation of art, culture, creative thought and expression can be greatly enhanced by an effective print partnership. From consumer and industrial products, to furniture, interior décor and industrial components, it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to appreciate where print can aid innovation if involved as a key component of creation.

The majority of print service providers (PSPs) already work with businesses in the creative industries with proofing, prototyping for presentations or short-run jobs. The trick is to understand how the creative economy is changing and the trends that are shaping that change – this will help PSPs to stay ahead and service the needs of the industry better.

Creatives will benefit most from PSPs when they work closely together to move away from commoditised work and embrace wider opportunities. For example, customised or personalised prints or products present the single biggest opportunity for adding high-margin products for both parties, or make a greater impact in marketing.

Whatever the business challenge you face, innovation is best achieved when partnerships truly align. Imagine how printing vibrant images onto virtually any material can change or support your business. You may never look back.

For more information, please download Canon’s Think Creative report


[1] Measuring Cultural and Creative Growth, EY, Dec 2014 
2] Measuring Cultural and Creative Growth, EY, Dec 2014 
3] Creative UK: Overview of the digital transformation of the UK creative economy, Bain & Company, March 2014
4] IDC Predictions 2015: Accelerating Innovation and Growth on the 3rd Platform, IDC, 2015
5] Forecast: 3D Printers Worldwide 2014, Gartner, 2014
6] The Engineer, June 2015
7] Making it Personal, Bain & Company, 2013