drupa Attendance Is Down – By a Lot

Jim Hamilton
May 17, 2012

The drupa 2012 organizers announced final attendance figures today. The total: 314,500. The stunner in this news isn’t that attendance dropped between drupa 2008 and 2012, it’s by how much. drupa attendance peaked in 1990, dropped off in 1995, and then came in at well over 400,000 in 2000. The next two drupas were both around around 390,000. The drupa 2012 figure is down about 75,000 from drupa 2008. Going into the show I hoped that final attendance figures would end up between 350,000 and 375,000. As it turns out, this was very optimistic. The newly released numbers tell a different story entirely.

drupa attendance

Consider some of the top trends affecting the industry today:

  • Paper’s diminished role in an Internet-connected, multi-channel, and mobile world
  • Precipitous drops in printing industry employment (down about 40% in the U.S. from 2000 to 2010)
  • Shifts in turnaround time and run length requirements that favor either electronic delivery or on-demand digital print
  • The poor state of the European economy (which has brought the region back into recession)
  • A shift in focus toward growth markets in Asia Pacific (visitors from India ranked second only to home-grown German visitors at drupa 2012)

So perhaps a drop of close to 20% in show attendance should not come as a surprise. Maybe it will convince organizers to shorten the show in the future (for now it’s still two weeks: June 2 to 15, 2016). Yet it also underscores the importance of developing innovative services — some print, some non-print — that open up new opportunities in a market that is undergoing radical changes. This is an example of why InfoTrends is conducting research in areas such as service expansion opportunities in document outsourcing, textiles, and packaging, as well as examining the impact of digital print around the world, including India and China. For additional information please feel free to contact me or check out one of the links below.

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