How Important is “Price” Among Print Buyers?

A few days ago we were making a fruitless attempt to clean up our office when I came across something that’s been up on my bulletin board for at least 15 years. It is an article that was published in Graphic Impressions magazine in 2003.  The title of the article was: The Top Questions Creative Agencies and Print Buyers Ask Of Potential Print Providers.” The subhead was just as intriguing –  In a Digital, On-Demand World, It’s About Much More than Price.

Authored by Bob Wagner, who at the time worked for the Xerox Corporation, the article discussed a survey conducted by the Rochester Institute  of Technology (RIT) in 2003. The survey was distributed to 250 creative advertising and design agencies in 2003. Yes, I recognize that is 15 years ago, but I believe the findings are as accurate today, if not more so, as they were in 2003. If you disagree with that conclusion let me know by using the email link below.

Those surveyed were asked to rank each of eight factors or considerations that typically go in the decision-making practice of selecting one printer over another. Buyers were asked to grade each factor on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most important criteria in selecting a printer. The graph below illustrates the findings of that survey.

I think if printers were to take this survey, they would rank “pricing” much higher.

I’ve always found this article fascinating because it has confirmed one of my theories on pricing – one of which being that an average print buyer, presented with a list of valid selection criteria, will inevitably select factors other than price as being the primary or #1 factor for selecting one printer versus another. 
Unfortunately, many printers concentrate so much on price that they fail to realize they could be charging more for their services and products if they promoted other factors as strongly as they do “Price.” I can understand why many printers concentrate on “Price” because to be blunt they oftentimes rank quite low on some of the other, more important factors cited by print buyers.

This job was due four hours ago.

Are you really dependable? Many printers “talk” a good game when it comes to dependability but they often perform really poorly. They are not dependable, and it is “hit or miss” for the average customer. They drop by the shop at 3 p.m. to pick-up the job they were promised only to be told it isn’t quite ready. If the truth were known, they job that was ready to be sent to the digital printer at 10 a.m. still hasn’t been sent, and it needs to be cut and folded when it is finished. The fact that the job isn’t ready often doesn’t seem to phase the staff and the reason for that is that no one in the company considers deadlines that critical.
What about “print quality?” Given today’s digital technology, it would seem hard to get a failing or low grade in this area, but some printers prove that it can be done! Many firms get a passing grade on the printing side, only to end up failing when it comes to finishing and packaging.
What about “turn-around Time?” Many printers prefer to stick to traditional time-worn schedules rather than demonstrating to customers how quickly the job can be turned around. It is frustrating to watch owners and top CSRs set delivery dates as far out as possible, not because the firm is that busy, but rather to avoid complaints from the graphics department or the back shop that the promised delivery dates are pushing the system. Really? Give us a break.
Ease of doing business? Believe it or not, many firms are not that easy to deal with but they don’t even realize it. Sometimes it seems like there’s a constant battle going on between the customer, the CSRs and the production team in back. The interactions between a customer and the printing staff ought to be a fun experience, not a struggle or clash of personalities. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what print buyers often report when it comes to calling up their printer to discuss an upcoming project. 
We welcome your feedback. Send us an email at [email protected] and give us your feedback. We would love to gather your opinions and share them with others. Have a great day.
John Stewart, Executive Director
National Printing Research Council (NPRC)

NPRC Reveals Findings of Latest Survey

Dear Fellow Printer,

First, we want to thank you if you participated in our recent survey about “Industry Surveys.” If you haven’t participated there’s still a couple of days left to participate. Go below for a link to our latest survey.

Second, we’d like to tell you what fellow printers told us and how we plan to react to the many suggestions we’ve received.

Independents vs. Franchises – 80% of our respondents were independents, while most of the rest were franchisees. About 48% of our respondents were members of one or printing associations. The rest claimed no association affiliation.

Participation Rates – Approximately 90% of our respondents have previously participated/completed one or more industry surveys, with 65% have completed or purchased three or more surveys/studies. It is obvious that our list is heavily skewed towards printers who tend to be far more active and involved in the industry than the industry as a whole. We may in fact be preaching to the “choir” and we are not sure how to correct that.

Popular Studies – When it comes to surveys printers would most like to see published, the clear winner was a “Color Digital Printing Pricing Survey.” Following close behind in terms of popularity were “Financial Benchmarking Studies” and a “Bindery Services Pricing Study” Based upon that feedback, we will attempt to published the three studies noted above in the next 6-18 months.

Serious Misgivings – We do have serious misgivings about pursuing or publishing a new Financial Benchmarking Study. In my mind, and that of many top-notch printers and consultants in the industry, there is no study of greater potential value to the average printer than this specific study. And yet, recent participation levels are the lowest they have ever been and the sales are equally low. Without sufficient sales, we simply cannot continue to publish this study. Maybe we’ll change our mind but at this point this study may never be published again.

Reasons for Not Participating – When we asked printers 
who have not completed a survey in the past three years the reason why they had not done so, almost 73% of respondents told us,
“I never could find the time to complete a survey.” Approximately 37% told us, “I never

Survey Deadline is Friday – Please help us serve you better. The deadline to complete this 3-minute survey is this Friday. We’ve heard from about 104 printers but we’d still like to hear from you as well.thought the resulting studies related to my size shop.” Based upon that feedback we are going to make a concerted effort shorten surveys, and emphasize in our marketing efforts that these surveys are based upon an almost equal distribution of very small firms with sales in the $250,000 to $500,000 range as well as fairly large firms reporting sales in the $1.2 to $1.5 range.

Increasing Participation Levels? Survey participants suggested “shortening surveys” (55%) and “offering special incentives” (47%) as the two major methods for increasing participation levels. Since we already offer a FREE study to every participant we’re not sure what else we could offer. A special discount coupon on NPRC publications is a possibility, and we are of course open to other suggestions. Almost 26% of respondents suggested sending out more reminders – that was surprising and reassuring, especially since it is contrary to what we often hear from folks who tell us we send out too many reminders!

Pricing of Studies – Approximately 72% of all participants suggested a price range of $85-$105, with another 21% suggesting a range of $110 – $135. Knowing how expensive and time-consuming these studies are to produce, and recognizing that we receive virtually no industry sponsorship, we are inclined to stick with the $110 – $135 range.

Editorial Board Volunteers? – Approximately 30% of survey participants indicated they would be willing to serve on an editorial board and provide assistance in developing one or more surveys. We appreciate those who volunteered and we will be in touch with them shortly.

Click Here to Take Survey

Allegra Member Praises New Study

2016-17-nprc-wage-benefit-backup_6244_image015This is what an Allegra franchisee had to say about our latest industry Wage & Benefits Study… “I like the analysis options based not only on regions, population, and size, but also on profitability. I also liked the sales representative breakout. Good work and thank you.”
Jim Elder, Allegra St Louis, St. Louis, MO

For additional information, visit the NPRC bookstore. This just released study retails for $179; NPRC members can purchase the study for only $89.50, a 50% discount off retail.

Free Report on the Future of Offset Printing


A PDF of this 12-page report is available by clicking below.

You can now download and print our 12-page report titled, “Printers Report Strong Shift to Digital,” by Clicking Here.. If you wish to read it on line, the full article appears immediately below in the adjoining column.

The file is currently 12 pages, 8.5×11. To print as 3, 11×17, 2-sided pages from Adobe Acrobat > Print,Page Setup in lower left corner, > Tabloid, landscape orientation. then > OK. Under Page Sizing and Handling, select Booklet. Then just choose 2-sided from your printer.


Download PDF of New Survey

OffsetNewsletter_NPRC-1You can now download and print our 12-page report titled, “Printers Report Strong Shift to Digital,” by clicking here. If you wish to read it on line, the full article appears immediately beneath this notice.

The file is currently 12 pages, 8.5×11. To print as 3, 11×17, 2-sided pages from Adobe Acrobat > Print,Page Setup in lower left corner, > Tabloid, landscape orientation. then > OK. Under Page Sizing and Handling, select Booklet. Then just choose 2-sided from your printer.



Printing & Politics – A QP Poll

The One Question We Forgot to Ask!

It looks like we may have set a record of sorts with our most recent survey titled, “Printing & Politics – Your Choice for President.” More than 270 printers responded within 48 hours, the largest number of responses to a survey in the past four years.

“More than 270 printers responded within 48 hours, the largest number of responses to a survey in the past four years.”

Unfortunately, after the survey “hit the streets,” and we were already processing the results, it suddenly dawned on us, especially after seeing the early trends, there was one question we wished we had asked but didn’t. We’ll let you know what that question was near the end of this survey. Continue reading

Business Climate Survey Results

BusinessClimateNewsletter-2QP Consulting, Inc. has just released the results of its 1st Quarter Business Climate Results.

All firms participating in the survey were sent a private email with a link to download the confidential PDF Report.

If you did not receive an email it may be because you never provided a proper address. If you believe you did provide the necessary information, please contact us at [email protected]  and we will provide you with the proper link.

FREE Download – If you would like to download this 3-page PDF please click here.

Upcoming Surveys Report

Pricing & Financial Ratios Prove Most Popular

First, a big “thank you” to all of you who participated in our “quickie” survey about surveys. We were one shy of reaching the 200 mark in terms of respondents to the survey we conducted March 10-11, 1016.

Approximately 96% of our survey respondents indicated they had participated in at least one major industry survey in the past five years. Far more encouraging, however, was the fact that 39% (78 firms) had completed 3-4 surveys during that time frame, with an additional 36% (72 firms) indicating they had participated in five or more surveys during that period.

Rating Surveys
Rating of Surveys
– We first asked survey respondents how they rated the overall value of surveys and subsequent studies that have been published by QP Consulting, Inc. and the results were overwhelmingly positive with 84% of all respondents telling us they believe the studies we’ve published have been either “Extremely Valuable” or “Very Valuable.” Continue reading

2016 Business Climate Survey


Printers Continue to Report
Mixed Results

By John Stewart, President, QP Consulting, Inc.

Approximately 18 months ago (August 2014) we conducted a survey on behalf of NPOA titled, titled, “Down to Earth, No Punches Pulled” – a general business climate survey. In August of 2014, approximately 28% of owners reported that sales were down either moderately or significantly. Move ahead 18 months and we find that number has improved, but only modestly! Today, approximately 20% of respondents are still reporting that their sales continue to be down.

Unfortunately however, as you can see from the chart below, the percentage of firms reporting to us that sales are “pretty flat” has actually increased from the 28% reported in 2014 to 35% in Feb. 2016. That means that approximately 55% of our industry is still struggling to some degree and telling us that their sales are either “down” or “flat” as we head into the remainder of 2016. image001

Continue reading