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Paper usage and A3/A4 shifts

Following the 22nd IMPSGA meeting that took place in Germany in September 2019, two very interesting industry subjects came up. They were met with diverging point of views and therefore heated debate.

In this blog, I will try to delineate the elements that are core to the strategy of any player in our industry.

  • Decline in page volumes and how it affects the industry as a whole.
  • Is this affecting the A3/A4 balance in the market?

Over the years, we have seen many statistics pointing to a 2% per annum printed pages decline and many of us have become accustomed to the idea. So, this is not new news, and this is not so scary anymore.

At regular intervals, some including us at IDeAs published content that expressed that the trend could change much faster. Players should remain attentive to low noise signals as customer demand may turn around sharply.

One of the presentations in our meeting referred to this “unanimously” accepted minus 2% and it got the debate started. Some felt it was higher than this. Our personal current estimate at IDeAs is around 3 to 4% and some OEM results were showing figures nearer to 7%.

Based on experience with engagements from various participants, the group tended to agree that paper consumption in corporate accounts aka large accounts is down at a rate of 10% p.a. Corporates are the prime market for investments in various process automation projects. This reduction in paper usage makes sense.

If we assume the corporate market is 20% of the total output, we have a 2% diminution of total volumes.

So in order to have a reduction of only 2% of the total market, we need to see the entire world of SMB, right down to SOHO users, having stable volumes.

And honestly, we struggle with that one

We believe SMBs do not move away from paper-based processes as quickly as the corporate group, but they do automate and have stopped printing quite a lot of stuff that ranges from travel tickets to fiscal documents linked to e-government initiatives. The volumes cannot be static but have to be slowly receding.

We believe there are geographical variations, with the usual trend of new technologies being adopted in Northern Europe quicker than in Southern Europe.

It showed throughout the group. As you know our members come from many countries and from differing business walk of life including business heritage (copiers vs. printers).

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This article was written on 14 Nov 2019, and is filled under Non classé.

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