ZOPI: Online print prices to remain unchanged in the last quarter of 2023

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No sugarcoating it: The phase of economic weakness that has already characterized large parts of the past year has continued into the fourth quarter of 2023. This is also reflected in the development of average prices in online print, as the current ZOPI, the zipcon Online Print Price Index, shows. While prices in the flyer segment remained virtually unchanged in the final months of 2023, they fell slightly in the shopping basket cluster for the first time in a long time. There has also been hardly any movement in prices in the detailed analysis of the individual manufacturers.

The fact that almost all providers in both surveyed product segments left their prices unchanged compared to September 2023 shows that the situation was and is still tense, not only in the German economy as a whole, but also in the online print industry. The further fall in inflation and lower paper prices do not appear to have had any impact.

Inflation and paper prices continue to fall

At least these two key figures have improved compared to September 2023: while inflation was still at + 4.5% in September 2023, it fell to + 3.7% in December (after + 3.2% in November and + 3.8% in October). Paper prices also fell slightly compared to September, as the Federal Statistical Office’s analysis shows. Compared to 2022, this curve is even more pronounced.

And yet: in view of the continuing very high energy prices – the inflation rate in 2023 as a whole was +5.3% compared to the previous year – and the significantly more expensive prices for food (+12.4% compared to 2022), but also for goods (+7.3% compared to 2022) and services (+4.4% compared to 2022), consumers in Germany were not in a real buying mood in the fourth quarter either.

E-commerce is also experiencing a slump

This was also felt by e-commerce, which has only known one direction for many years, namely growth, but has recorded shrinking sales figures since 2022. As announced by bevh, the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association, gross sales of goods fell by a double-digit 11.8% to €79.9 billion for the first time in 2023, compared to €90.4 billion in the previous year. Although an increase in turnover was recorded in the services sector, the recovery trend here has already weakened slightly. Overall, industry sales in e-commerce fell below the 100 billion euro mark for the first time since 2020 – although bevh President Gero Furchheim expects the trough to be reached in the course of this year and the association anticipates nominal growth of 2% for 2024.

Business situation in the printing industry

Developments in the German printing industry as a whole are similar. As the economic telegram from the German Printing and Media Industries Federation for December showed, the business climate and business situation in the fourth quarter of 2024 were rated lower than in the whole of 2023. The reasons for this were the continuing difficult order situation due to the economic situation, the lack of overall economic recovery and the ongoing cost pressure.

How online print shops are dealing with the situation

The development of online print prices must also be assessed against this background. As the ZOPI, the zipcon Online Print Price Index for quarter 4/2023, shows, average prices have moved only slightly: for flyers (print run of 10,000, in DIN A5 format, printed in four colors on both sides and on 135 g glossy paper), the average increase at the end of December was +29%, the same level as in September and June and only slightly below the peak value of +30.55% reached in July, and at the same time above the value of December 2022 (+28%).

*Depending upon the provider some products grams and coating may vary.
© Photo by zipcon consulting / zipcon.de

Detailed analysis of flyers

While several providers adjusted their prices for flyers in Q3, they were more restrained in Q4: only four of the eleven providers charged different prices than in September, two of which were higher and two lower. The price level remained identical for all others.

Online printing made the biggest leap upwards: prices for the 10,000 DIN A5 flyers were 36% higher, a full seven percentage points higher than in September (+29%). Compared to the ZOPI index value from summer 2020, Unitedprint/print24 is the second provider to have increased its prices in this segment, with an increase of four percentage points from +76% to +80%. Unitedprint/print24 is also the provider that has raised its prices for flyers more than any other since the ZOPI survey and thus continues to be the maximum value.

The lowest deviation from the index value is to be found at Primus-Print with another constant +5.0%.

By contrast, prices in the flyer segment were lowered by Vistaprint and Druckdiscount24: While the index value for orders at Vistaprint was +17% (September: +21%), Druckdiscount24 again called for significantly lower prices (-13%) than in September (-6%) and less than at the start of the ZOPI in summer 2020.

Compared to September 2023, prices remained constant at Saxoprint with + 49 % compared to the index value, Onlineprinters with + 37 %, Redprintgroup with + 35 %, Wir machen Druck with + 34 %, Flyeralarm with + 28 % and Print-Kit with + 9 % compared to their first survey in January 2023.

Detailed view of the shopping basket

On the other hand, there was a downward trend in prices for the shopping basket containing 10,000 flyers in DIN A5 format, brochures (32 pages, DIN A4, stitched, printed on both sides) and business cards (4/4 color, without finishing). The average change compared to the first survey of this product category in November 2020 was +23.73% in December 2023. At the end of September, this figure was still +27%, in December 2022 it was +33%.

A detailed analysis shows a similar picture to the flyer cluster, as only two providers out of ten changed their prices, and again downwards: The biggest price difference was at Onlineprinters, which called up + 24% for the basket in December 2023 compared to the November 2020 index value, but eight percentage points less than in September 2023 (+ 32%). The shopping basket at Druckdiscount24 was also slightly cheaper in December at +4% compared to +6% in September.

After a product from the Print-Kit shopping basket was no longer ordered in the required configuration in September and October and therefore no comparative values could be collected, everything worked again in November and December. At the end of last year, the shopping basket was up 8% on its index value from January 2023.

All other providers included in the ZOPI shopping basket product cluster remained at the same price level in December as three months previously: Unitedprint/print24 is also the frontrunner in this cluster in terms of the increase in prices charged, at +69% compared to the start of the shopping basket survey in November 2020. They are followed by Saxoprint and Onlinedrucken with +38% each, Wir machen Druck with +37%, Redprintgroup with +11%, Primus-Print with +4% (although the index value here is January 2023) and Flyeralarm with +3%.

Outlook

After I posed the question in the last ZOPI as to whether the economic circumstances described above would lead to strong Christmas business at all, the answer is rather sober in retrospect. The fact is that Christmas business was rather subdued for most online print shops. It is doubtful whether this will change significantly in the new year, as the coming months are likely to remain volatile.

However, it will be exciting to see to what extent online print shops will be able to integrate the new opportunities created by AI-based tools and services into their business models this year. I am firmly convinced that many new opportunities for online print shops lie dormant in precisely this area. We just need to discover, shape and integrate them. How exactly this can work will be the main topic at this year’s Online Print Symposium, which takes place on March 14 and 15 at the Science Congress Center in Munich. If you’re not there, it’s your own fault. So, will we see you in Munich?

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ZOPI: Online print prices to remain unchanged in the last quarter of 2023
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ZOPI: Online print prices to remain unchanged in the last quarter of 2023
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No sugarcoating it: The phase of economic weakness that has already characterized large parts of the past year has continued into the fourth quarter of 2023. This is also reflected in the development of average prices in online print, as the current ZOPI, the zipcon Online Print Price Index, shows. While prices in the flyer segment remained virtually unchanged in the final months of 2023, they fell slightly in the shopping basket cluster for the first time in a long time. There has also been hardly any movement in prices in the detailed analysis of the individual manufacturers.
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Beyond-print.net

Founder and CEO of zipcon consulting GmbH, one of the leading consulting companies for the print and media industry in Central Europe. The technology and strategy consultant and his team actively support practical implementation in a wide variety of customer projects. His work involves developing visions, concepts and strategies for the players active in the print production process across a wide range of industries. His areas of expertise include online print, mass customization, strategy and technological assessment for print, and the development of new strategies in the print and media environment. Bernd Zipper is the creator and chairman of Initiative Online Print e.V. and, in addition to his consulting activities, is an author, lecturer and sought-after speaker, orator and moderator. His visionary lectures are regarded worldwide as trend-setting management recommendations for the print and media industry. (Profiles also in Xing, LinkedIn).

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