By Andreas Weber, Head of Value | German Version
Note / supplement
The first publication of this article in September 2019 produced a worldwide response. Mostly my assessment was shared. Above all, it was discussed how and if technology fairs can serve to strengthen or even improve the situation of printing companies and to develop future potential. The result: Yes, this succeeds if the focus is not only on exhibitor needs, but places the interests and the situation of the visitors in the center.
The situation in the print market is characterized above all by technology and innovative capability. And here’s my latest analysis revealing something amazing (see: # drupa2020 ante portas: The Renewal of Print). No wonder, then, when you have to be concerned because appearance and reality drift apart.
Incidentally, one critic commented that drupa should not be talked down otherwise it would be a pity for the print industry as a whole. Well, am I doing that? To identify problems/challenges and express concerns is not bad, but important to get better and better. Isn’t it?
It will be my 11th drupa since 1977, which I will visit in June 2020. First as a ‘normal’ trade visitor, then in the record number of visitors in 1990 as an exhibitor, later as a journalist and in recent years as an analyst and blogger. — Clearly, things are changing. While machines and devices used to be the focus of attention, today solutions, concepts, perspectives and application options are the key.
The rush of manufacturers as exhibitors is unbroken. Trade fair director Sabine Geldermann proudly speaks of a sold-out #drupa2020, including the new exhibition hall 1. In 1951, drupa started its successful run when the former Heidelberg boss Dr. Sternberg had rented the whole hall 1.
However, the development in the number of visitors fills me with great concern.
Of course, the advancing automation and the path towards Industry 4.0 bring about rationalization effects that enable personnel savings.
But: For a long time, it has not been possible to inspire new target groups for the drupa to a significant extent — people who have to deal with modern marketing and communication topics on a broad front. They should focus on print, but do it less and less. Why is that? What’s wrong with communication?
Honestly, as long as I can witness it, it has never been so calm in the run up to a drupa. This can not only be attributed to the organizers and partners. The trade press, formerly a guarantor of success, is only a shadow of itself (apart from a few exceptions!), hardly find enough readers and supporters anymore. Outstanding events, such as the Print & Digital Convention initiated by the German association f:mp Fachverband Medienproduktioner e.V., have developed well. But in May 2019 with 1,200 visitors are lean compared to the simultaneous digital events such as OMR in Hamburg with over 50,000 visitors or the re:publica convention in Berlin with 20,000 visitors.
Why is the industry not acting broadly, concertedly and publicly for its concerns and, above all, its right to exist? And takes a clear position on what and how things have changed in the digital age.
There is still some time left. But something must happen very quickly. Otherwise it means (again): “Operation succeeded, patient dead.” And to find an inglorious end like the CeBIT, that is the drupa and the print industry not to be desired.
As far as I can, I like to help and offer a number of opportunities to get involved. So the expert network #Think!Paper, supported by Mondi, GT Trendhouse 42 and Jubels; or even with the new blog “HotspotSubscription”, which has occupied as a theme “Renewal of Print”, and thus from the stand for high attention, especially outside the industry. The Digital Printing Forum, founded by myself and partners, is still active as an industry initiative and has over 1,200 group members via XING. Last but not least: my blog ValueTrendRadar.com as a compendium for communication with print has found over 120,000 readers from almost 160 countries in the world since #drupa2012.
There are many possibilities. You just have to grab it. In that sense, I am still optimistic.
And what about you? Share your thoughts and let’s start a good conversation.