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  • Jane Dexter

UK Printing Facts and Figures


It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without print. It’s all around us and plays a vital role in our daily lives.

Print is largely produced using sustainable materials. It is predominantly paper based, 80% of which is sourced from European forests - which are growing by over 1,500 football pitches every day!

Printing companies are at the forefront of improvements in environmental performance in manufacturing, with high levels of take-up for both the ISO 14001 environmental management standard and for FSC and PEFC chain of custody accreditations.

Print is highly effective. It provides the means to communicate ‘messages’ easily, quickly and cheaply. Print has impact. It is creative, it engages, it is versatile and it is persuasive.

Print has longevity and authority. It is tactile and offers a ‘real world’ experience. It has a unique ability to grab and hold people’s attention. In fact no other media channel can offer this combination of qualities.

Print is an important vehicle for advertising, education, entertainment and information. It serves all parts of the UK economy - including...

  • central and local government

  • financial services

  • retailing

  • distribution

  • travel and tourism

  • manufacturing industries

Print is an advanced manufacturing sector. It utilises cutting edge information and production technologies.

Print can be interactive and integrated. The use of Augmented Reality and Near-Field Communications offers the opportunity to increase the engagement between consumers and brands and enhance the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

Economic Importance

The UK printing sector is an important economic contributor and employer in all UK regions...

  • £700 Million P.A. Capital Investment

  • World’s Fifth Largest Producer of Printed Products

  • £13.8 Billion Turnover

  • 116,000 Employees

  • £775 Million Positive Trade Balance In 2016

  • 8,400 Companies

  • £5.8 Billion Gross Value Added

Why print media?

Add print, add power

Print is the ideal marketing medium...

  • available in both large and small numbers

  • easily accessed

  • engaging, versatile and creative

  • each type of print media has its own unique quality and role.

Newspapers become part of their readers’ day as they..

  • educate and inform with credibility and trust

  • consumer and customer magazines create engagement through entertaining content

  • direct mail uses its ability to gain access to people’s homes and lives to deliver a targeted sales message

  • door drops have an enviable reach and ROI

  • catalogues provide inspiration for customers before leading them online to make the purchase

  • on their own, each channel fulfils a vital marketing role.

When combined with other media, they are a highly effective force for any campaign, for any brand.

Print delivers greatest return on advertising expenditure

New research from Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) has established benchmarks that detail the expected return on ad spend based on media type. Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) measures the incremental sales lift driven by the advertising for the amount that was spent on the ads.

This factors in the economics of the media. Unlike ROI, which accounts for margin, it’s a pure advertising metric. Since the price of media is central to measuring ROAS, media cost has an impact on the results, and the impact varies greatly across medium. Looking at all studies across measured media types and categories; magazines have the highest ROAS.

Advertising in print

The internet has become the top ranked media in terms of share (41.2%). However, printed media (direct mail, out of home and press) is second (29.9%). and, of course, the internet figures do include digital expenditure by news and magazine brands.

While print media has been under threat from the rapidly growing internet sector, the latest advertising association / Warc Expenditure Report reveals that advertising expenditure grew by..

  • 8.1% in 2015

  • forecasted to grow by 4.4% in 2016

  • and 3.2% in 2017

Productivity in print

The UK’s ‘productivity conundrum’ continues and the printing industry has not been immune to this. However, the latest productivity statistics from the office for national statistics reveal that the printing industry is a beacon of light.

Continued investment in training, technology and process improvements delivered the greatest 12-month productivity improvement for the sector since records began (in 1994).

Print is sustainable

Unlike TV or digital, print conjures up a number of preconceptions powered by a series of myths about the use of paper. Consumer demands, Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and the constantly developing area of legal compliance all put sustainability firmly in the spotlight. The creation of print can be split into three stages: paper, printing and consumption.

For each point along this journey, there are a large number of processes, assessments and safeguards that significantly reduce the environmental impact of print.

Paper

The production of the raw material for print media - paper - is perhaps the most obvious and emotive area for environmental concern.

But while it’s assumed that making paper destroys forests, the opposite is true: Between 2005 and 2015 European forests grew by 44,000 square kilometres – that’s an area bigger than Switzerland!

Forests used in the paper-making industry are also well managed and sustainable, with certification schemes such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) ensuring that paper comes from sustainable forest sources.

Printing

The printing process is constantly becoming more environment-friendly, refining its materials and processes to reduce its impact. One of the major ways printers do this is through ‘environmental printing’, a commitment whereby they strive to reduce their carbon footprint across the entire company.

This is done through the use of vegetable-based inks, recycling cleaning solvents and waste, sourcing paper from sustainable and well-managed forests, and offsetting any remaining carbon emissions.

Consumption

Paper is one of the world’s most recycled materials – far more than plastics or glass - and is one of the few materials that’s able to be completely recycled.

The European recycling rate for paper continues to lead the world; it reached 72% in 2015. There’s understandably a consumer concern about the waste of paper, but studies are emerging about the environmental impact of digital media compared to print.

Indeed, a report by the Swedish Royal Institute for Technology stated that reading a newspaper can consume 20% less carbon than viewing the news online.

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