The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a study titled "World-wide Market for Print: Identifying Global Opportunities for the Print Industry." The study's findings were encouraging for the future of the print industry as a whole. The report set out to examine the global market for print industry leaders in an attempt to identify countries that show promise for future growth. Researchers also aimed to determine what print products would command the market.

Package printing, business and transactional printing and publishing will top the charts in terms of market growth in coming years. According to the study, package printing will have a 4.2 percent compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2017. In fact, package print is projected to account for 43 percent of the printing market in 2017.

Largely, the demand for packaged goods allows corrugated print to remain in control of the global print market, noted the study. However, flexible packaging, labels and tags will see a fair share of the spotlight due to the increased demand for customized products paired with the growing rate of diversification in print products.

The market beyond package printing
Business and transactional printing is set to have a slight growth rate leading up to the end of next year. The study projected that between 2012 and 2017 there would be a CAGR of 1.2 percent globally for this sector of the printing industry.

While developed countries may see a decline in publishing over the next couple of years, developing economies are expected to see a 7-10 percent growth rate. Display graphics and point of purchase were also projected to maintain a 1.6 percent annual growth rate to the end of 2017, according to the study. Of the countries examined, China is set to take the number one market spot. The Chinese printing sector is projected to ring in at $154 billion in revenue by 2017.

According to a similar study by Smithers Pira titled "The Future of Global Printing to 2020," the annual growth rate globally will be positive despite a decline in print volumes. The study projects 2 percent growth per year through 2020.

"Going forward the overall printing volume will continue to fall, but in constant value terms there is growth. This is through continuing product mix changes with a greater share of higher value products, particularly packaging, and the prospects vary significantly by geography," explained co-author of the report Dr. Sean Smyth.

This report echoes the previous study in having a distinctly positive outlook for the package printing industry. The study noted that that sector of the printing market is currently, and will continue to be, growing consistently. On another positive note for the print industry as a whole, Smithers Pira found that print manufacturers are increasingly becoming more efficient. Their workflow and automation processes and work to reduce waste and overall demand for inks.