Commercial Printers: The "Hot" New Stock Market?

Posted on 4/7/2008 by Heidi Tolliver-Nigro | Printable Version | Comments (1)

When people think about stock images, the first buyer market that comes to mind is typically not commercial print. However, perhaps it should be-depending on the category of images purchased.

Stock Market 2008: U.S. Market Sizing in Units and Dollars, just released by The Industry Measure, demonstrates that commercial printers and trade shops purchase more images than their creative and publishing counterparts in a number of key image categories. In some cases, printers also purchase more images than Internet design and development firms.

For example, user-reported figures suggest that printers purchase twice as many royalty-free images as publishers. Printers also buy nearly three times as many royalty-free images and CD collections as creatives, which include ad agencies, graphic design firms, corporate designers and commercial photographers. While creatives spend more on individual images, printers buy more of them.

This is not just a royalty-free phenomenon. Printers also say that they purchase nearly the same number of rights-managed images as creatives.

The reason for the evolution of stock-buyer demographics is the rapid change of the commercial printing marketplace during the past decade. Printers are making wholesale business-model changes by transitioning from print manufacturers to providers of print-based marketing services. As they expand from execution-only services into campaign conceptualization and development, printers are offering a host of new services, ranging from database development to design.

"Design" from your local print shop used to mean a client-service rep sitting tweaking digital templates for letterhead and business cards for SoHo clientele. Today, printers are bringing real creative talent in-house-talent that rivals small design boutiques. In some cases, printers are actually purchasing these shops to bring in the design expertise needed to service larger, more demanding clients.

A major driver of this trend is 1:1 printing (or print personalization). Typically sold by the printer directly to the client, 1:1 printing does not use a creative middleman but has unique design needs. The ability to anticipate and accommodate these needs is a skill that printers-turned-marketing-services-providers are in a unique position to offer.

This drives the need for more sophisticated design services, including stock image purchases, to meet the demands of larger businesses and corporate clients. This explains the demand for rights-managed images-demand that rivals that of advertising agencies, graphic designers, corporate designers and commercial photographers combined.

While stock-image providers often overlook the printing market, it warrants consideration, especially since printers prefer single-source relationships. According to Stock Market 2008, the percentage of printers and trade shops single-sourcing suppliers has risen from 28% to 45% over the past three years. Price is the most important factor in choosing a stock-image supplier, followed by variety of images (30% of survey respondents) and search-engine accuracy (27%).

Stock Market 2008 covers estimates for stock-image purchases in units and dollars for royalty-free and rights-managed images and CD collections for the printing, creative, publishing and Internet design and development marketplaces. For the printing and creative markets, estimates are also provided for subscription-based and microstock image products.

--Heidi Tolliver-Nigro, senior analyst at The Industry Measure, is the author of Stock Market 2008. She has been covering the commercial printing and publishing industries for the past 20 years and has authored close to 100 of The Industry Measure reports since the company's inception in 1995. Previously, Tolliver-Nigro served as the editor of Printing News, Quick Printing, and Southern Graphics

Copyright © 2008 Heidi Tolliver-Nigro. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Jagdish Agarwal Posted Apr 8, 2008
    How true. One of the largest printer in India has a sales pitch, "free design, free artwork, free photos, just pay us for paper and printing" and to make this happen he bought dozens of royalty free discs.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff