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Identity’s 2017 Signage Industry Predictions
The cost of raw materials is back on the increase after Brexit and the falling pound. In fact, we are on track for a 10% increase in pricing from last year for sheet materials and some vinyl! So how will the signage industry survive? Quite simply the signage industry will pull through, although there is an expectation that the industry will continue to consolidate. Therefore, we may see the closure of some businesses that have weak processes or businesses that do not adjust its product and service offerings to meet market demands.
The industry has experienced far more turbulent times in the past. On this occasion, survival will not come from increasing your prices but by reducing costs and offering eco-friendly, cutting-edge and digital alternatives. The signage industry will continue to innovate and focus on emerging technologies, many of which will be explored in this article.
In this article, we will we review our 2016 predictions and explore seven more industry predictions for 2017, identifying the factors we think are most likely to have an impact on the signage industry.
Last year's prediction that 2016 would be the year of development for 3D printing was correct! A lot happened in this space in 2016, including the introduction of the first commercial 3D printer from HP.
HP, Nike and BMW teamed up to develop and bring to market the first commercial 3D printer. The printer is based on an open platform which means the materials and software are readily available. HP’s aim is simple - to reduce barriers to adoption and introduce new ways of working to the prototyping and manufacturing industry.
This was a major step forward for 3D printing and has meant that within a matter of months we have already started to see this machine on our high street with the emergence of 3D printing facilities. Not only is the technology now readily available (for a starting price of £80k) but this machine delivers superior quality, physical parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D print systems.
For the signage industry, 3D printers of all different shapes and sizes are starting to appear and form part of the signmaker's service offering. Printers are being used for a range of applications from 3D letters to door signs and are well-established in the marketplace. However, the cost of a 3D printer to produce larger signage products is still financially prohibitive. We predict that this will change in 2017 thanks to encouragement from companies like HP to innovate and use open platform technology to reduce costs.
Indoor vs Outdoor
The retail point of the sale market totalled 12.8bn square metres of print at a total cost of £40bn in 2014 and is growing by 0.8% year on year. In 2017, the battle will continue to unfold between outdoor and indoor signage. Indoor signage is growing at a yearly rate of 1.2%, whilst outdoor signage is decreasing by 0.4%.
This year, the demand for high-turnover graphics in retail environments will continue to encourage the industry to innovate and develop new technologies, whereas the outdoor technologies will see less investment in 2017.
We’ve identified that the reason for the shift of focus from outdoor to indoor is due to social media marketing. Shoppers are using social media to influence a shopping trip – the shops the consumer will visit are planned before setting foot in the shopping centre. This means that once a customer is in-store, all the retailer needs to do is encourage the consumer to purchase - increasing the importance of point of sale graphics. As a result, the general consensus in the retail industry is that outdoor signage no longer delivers the same return on investment.
In 2016, Identity saw demand increase for the following products – nothing new in this list from previous years, just plenty more!
Temporary PoP displays—such as pop-up displays and shelf talkers
Semi-permanent PoP displays—such as pallet displays and corrugated floor units
Permanent PoP displays—such as durable permanent floor or counter displays
Corporate graphics, exhibition, and trade show materials
The indoor signage sector accounts for 72% of the markets spend compared to 28% for outdoor signage. The retail industry continues to require large quantities of printed signage, much of which have a very short lifespan. Therefore, the signage industry continues to be directly impacted by retail trends, with drivers including in-store displays, new product launches, new store openings, store closures, sale/price promotions and seasonal promotions. The driver which is missing in this list is e-commerce. E-commerce continues to compete with the high-street forcing retailers to put more resources into high-impact printed graphics.
2017 will see demand continue to increase in the indoor signage arena, but unfortunately a decrease in outdoor.
Digital Signage Branches Out – Advertising vs Information
Goodbye traditional billboard advertising, make way for digital signage! You will have noticed over the last 12 months that digital signage continues to be one of the fastest-growing industries. The focus in 2016 was on bus stop, billboard and washroom digital advertising which moved away from traditional posters and PVC printer graphics. In 2017, demand will continue to grow with an estimated total spend of £15bn. As predicted in 2016, retail and branding will continue to dominate the digital signage industry with advertising and internal communications closely behind.
Last year, Clear Channel’s ‘Storm Digital’ brand launched four new digital advertising billboard sites in London alone -boasting screen sizes of 4.8m x 7.2m. With increased demand and major brands continuing to seek new ways to be quick to market, expect to see many more of these sites appearing in 2017.
In addition to digital signage for advertising, many sectors are now harnessing the same technology to develop the interaction with customer and clients. This means that there are now two forms of digital signage:
Advertising — primarily used in the retail and hospitality sectors
Information — primarily used in financial services, transportation, education and corporate settings
We are working with a variety of organisations to harness digital technology to facilitate brand interaction. This means that by understanding the user experience and the interactions we have with brands every day, digital signage offers yet another touch point to interact with consumers and build relationships. Digital signage is rapidly bridging the gap between physical and digital marketing, offering companies a cost-effective way to advertise. Digital signage captures 400% more views than traditional billboard advertising and so it is no surprise this industry is booming.
So, what developments are we likely to see in 2017 in digital signage? Bigger screens and more interaction.
With digital platforms being one of the most powerful options for display and advertising, firms are now looking at ways to display the biggest and brightest ads. Outdoor screen firm Amscreen amongst others is working to develop large-format digital signage.
Major brands will look to find more ways to interact with the consumer and engage, below is a recent example from a Renault campaign which used vehicle recognition technology to help Renault interact directly with drivers. The UK-based campaign identifies the make, model and colour of passing vehicles based on the license plate, and delivers relevant real-time messages on nearby digital signage. Anticipate many more of these in 2017…