In a survey (conducted before the Coronavirus outbreak) over 500 printers and about 200 suppliers described the challenges and successes of launching new products and services. For many in the industry, the recovery from the Coronavirus recession may well require such launches and we should take a look as to how this can be done best.

In most market sectors and regions there are very challenging conditions. As for suppliers, they are only as healthy as their customers and they too must respond to the declining prospects for traditional products and services. For many the answer must be, at least in part, to launch new products and services.

About 60% of printers launched major new products or services in the last four years into their existing markets. About half of the launches were successful and only very few were not successful. Diversification of the product or service range and the acquisition of new customers were named as the most important advantages. As for the disadvantages, most reported that launches took up too much time and other resources and often fell far behind schedule.

About 30% of printers had launched into new market sectors. This is clearly a more difficult challenge and the results reflected that, with approximately 40% of the launches going well (compared to 54% for existing markets).

On the supplier side, approximately 80% launched new products/services over the last four years. The results were significantly better the larger the company was, with success rates ranging from 40% for the smallest vendors to 80% for the larger ones. The biggest advantages were diversification and the acquisition of new customers. By far the most obvious problems were delayed launches and the use of too many resources. Building the right distribution channels was also often a challenge.

Before the pandemic outbreak, 76% of printers and 85% of suppliers were either definitely or possibly launching new products or services in the next four years. Clearly that will mean investment, with digital print technology followed by finishing being the most popular targets for printers.

  • The report draws four key lessons on how best to succeed when launching new products or services:
  • Launching new services and products requires suitable, well-prepared processes
  • Careful selection and development is essential – no reflex reactions
  • Plan conservatively – expect delays and complications
  • Manage your expectations – be realistic

These two quotes from panel participants underline these conclusions:

“The most important lesson has been to define plans with the ability to adapt to rapid changes in market and customers’ demands. The challenge is to grow by introducing new product or services areas while maintaining the existing ones.” – Packaging printer, Puerto Rico

“The switch from print to print + digital is essential for the survival of the graphic industries. Customers are no longer waiting. If you cannot provide the service they request, they will leave you, because a competitor, who has been able to adapt and develop new services, will take the market.” –Commercial market supplier, France

This year’s drupa Spotlight report “Strategic choices in a competitive and converging marketplace” was pubilshed in May. See for more information.