Population Plays Minimal Role in Pricing

Published Nov. 15, 2021

Pricing Practices for #10/24 1-S Envelopes
Varies Little When Based Upon Population

By John Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC

Once again, before we begin our formal report on the results of our latest survey, we would like to thank the owners of 115 printing firms who took the time to complete our most recent survey. Without their support and participation, detailed surveys such as this would simply not be possible. The data below is provided absolutely free to the industry in hopes of encouraging greater participation and appreciation for the contributions made by NPRC to this industry.

 NPRC has just released the results of its latest mini-survey dealing with the pricing of 1-C and 4-C envelopes. The survey was launched on Nov. 9, 2021 and closed on Nov. 11th and attracted 115 participants. The survey covered pricing practices for producing digital and offset #10/24 Envelopes.

This survey tackled pricing two quantities of envelopes, 500 and 1,000, for #10/24 regular envelopes, 1-S, printed in black and/or 4C. An additional breakdown for pricing asked for pricing for “digital” vs. “offset” printing. Below is listed both average and median pricing for these four breakouts.

An ancillary question for pricing envelopes regarded the preferred method used to produce these envelopes. When it comes to producing envelopes in black ink/toner, 61.2% of respondents indicated they would produce these envelopes digitally, while 38.8% said they would be produced via offset.

However, when it comes to producing 4C envelopes, 96% of all respondents indicated they would rely on digital devices, while only 4% said they would rely on offset. Consequently, the vast percentage of pricing reported below (at least as it applies to 4C envelopes, represents prices for digital production. In fact, approximately 33% of our respondents told us they no longer have offset presses in their operation.

“Approximately 33% of our respondents told us they no longer have offset presses in their operation.”

Requested delivery time? Our mini-survey also asked participants if the customer placed the order “on a Monday, and would like to pick up the envelopes on Thursday mid-day, how
would they characterize this delivery request?”

Provided with four choices, this is how our or respondents answered:

  • We would easily be able to delivery this job as requested… 75.8% (86)
  • Would be tight, but doable… 21.% (24)
  • Delivery job under this time-frame would be a significant challenge… 1.8% (2)
  • We would have to charge an additional fee to meet this schedule… 1.8% (2)

Population Density Extractions

One new extraction we used for this analysis is the ability to analyze envelope pricing based upon population densities. We’ve often argued, contrary to popular opinion expressed by many printers, that pricing varies far more within individual markets than it does when comparing pricing from one market to the next, especially when analyzing markets based upon population density.

Often overheard statements such as, “I could never charge those prices in my market area” or “large markets can always charge more (or less) than I can get in my market” are common in our industry. So too is the classic argument, “My market is different.” The latter is often heard in any discussion about pricing.

We have argued over the years that there are far more similarities in pricing than there are difference between one market and the next, even when the discussions raise the topic of population density. Our basic argument has always been that the greatest variations in pricing are found within individual markets, and not from one market to the next.

We have consistently found that prices for specific products (such as 1M #10/24, 1-S, 4C envelopes) can often vary by as much as 30-40% within individual markets such as Stow, OH, or Lake Mary, FL. However, the average (or median) price for these products rarely varies by more than 10% when comparing one market to the next. Another way of saying this, is that you are likely to see far more variations in envelope pricing within markets such as Stow, OH or Lake Mary, FL than you are from one market to the next.

The opinions noted above are based on 30+ years of consulting, as well as assisting dozens and dozens of printing firms conduct their own locally based pricing surveys.

Thanks to a recently discovered Excel tool, we are now able to extract the population of virtually every town or city listed by our participants and analyze their pricing based upon that population. For the purposes of this analysis, we were able to extract the population basis for almost all of our 118 participants.

Next, we ranked the populations extracted from low to high, and then we divided our list into four approximate quartiles: 

Market Size Population Range Count
Rural 1,000-19,000 29
Small 20,000-69,999 28
Medium 70,000-199,999 28
Major 200,000-10 Million 23

With our new population tool in hand, we were able to analyze and extract average and median pricing for both black and 4C envelopes for each of four distinct population breakouts.  Below are two tables. The first one analyzes pricing for black ink for #10/24 envelopes for All firms, as well as those falling into each of our four population classifications.

The second table provides the same pricing but for 4C #10/24 envelopes. Generally speaking, notice how relatively little the average and median prices vary among the four markets noted.

#10/24 Blk Envelope Pricing

#10/24 4C Envelope Pricing

Despite vast differences in population size, note how relatively little pricing (both average & median) varies from one breakout to the next. Although sample size for each breakout is relatively small, we can assure you that even if we had 200+ firms for each population category, we would still have found only modest if any differences in pricing.

The graph below illustrates average and median pricing for 500 4C envelopes.

This graph illustrates average and median pricing for 1M 4C envelopes.

Conclusion – If you participated in our survey we want to express our appreciation. If you did not, we would like to encourage you (especially if you are a member of NPRC Listserv) to participate next time. We try not to overburden you with surveys, and our goal is to keep these surveys to no more than 5-6 questions on a very specific subject, whether it be pricing or more general in nature.

If you have any suggestions for a future mini-survey please sent us an email at: [email protected].

John Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC
Melbourne, FL 32904

NPRC Releases New Digital Pricing Study

NPRC has just released its latest research report, the 2019-2020 “Sweet Sixteen” Digital Color Pricing Study! The new report, packed with the very latest pricing info, and including literally hundreds of average and median prices, is now available for immediate shipment. The new study covers more than a dozen of the industry’s most popular products and services in the digital printing arena.

The 90+ page study offers an up-to-the-minute look at what printers are charging for services such as flyers & catalog sheets, postcards, rack cards, carbonless forms, newsletters and digitally printed envelopes, just to name a few. Click here to view the entire table of contents.

Each page in this brand new study is packed with pricing info you can use to cross-check your own pricing against printers around the country.

Most products and services included in this study include average and median pricing, a 10% high and low extraction, plus pricing based on a per unit basis such as pricing per sheet, per click, per envelope and even pricing per carbonless set. This feature makes it easier than ever for readers to obtain pricing for unusual quantities or quantities simply not covered in the report.

Due to on-going concerns regarding copyright violations, this study and possibly future NPRC studies, will no longer be made available as a PDF. Instead, we will only provide “hard” copies. Most orders are processed same day as received and are shipped out via USPS Priority Mail.

Available for sale beginning July 18, 2019.
Retail Price Only $245. Hard copies only!
Click below to visit the NPRC Bookstore for more details.



Pricing Study – Table of Contents and Sample Pricing Page

You asked for it, so we did it! Recently we received some inquiries from owners who have been thinking about purchasing our latest pricing study – The 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study, but told us that before they placed an order they would like to view the Table of Contents – a pretty reasonable request, but something we had failed to think about. So here it is… Click Here to see exactly what products are covered. 

Although this new pricing study, like all publications published by NPRC, is sold on a 100% money-back guarantee, some folks would still rather just be sure what our studies contain before they place an order. Then visit the  NPRC Bookstore to place your order.

You can also  download three different sample pages from this just-released study. Click on one or more of the pages depicted below to download a complete full-page PDF.

The first page is a sample pricing page depicting pricing for 4 x 9″ Rack Cards. Click on the image to print-out the pricing sheet:

Rack Card Pricing is one of more than 30 products and/or services covered in the 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study.

The second is a pricing page covering 9 x 12″ Digital Envelopes printed in black as well as 4C.

Click here or the artwork above to download a PDF of one of two pages offered in the study dealing with envelope printing.

The third page is a pricing page covering 4/0 and 4/4 Digitally produced business cards.

Click here or artwork above to download a sample pricing page for 4/0 and 4/4 business cards.



Digital Color Pricing Tips

Pricing Newsletters or Booklets Feature Make
Quoting Odd Quantities Easier than Ever!

Here’s a “real world” example of how to get the most out of the newly released NPRC 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study. Some people are often overwhelmed at the information available in our studies, so we thought we would pass on a couple of digital color pricing tips gleaned from our own experiences. 

This is a modified version of the old “The cobbler’s son has no shoes” parable. As many of you know I am the Executive Director of NPRC while my wife Mary owns and runs a small printing operation (Paragon Printing & Graphics) that offers most of the traditional offset and digital services found in most printing firms these days. 

She Gets Her Studies Free!

I have nothing to do with the printing firm and Mary has little to do with my publishing and consulting services. In fact, we can go one or two days at work without even speaking to each other, with each of us so busy doing our own thing.

While Mary is certainly aware of the types of studies we produce, she rarely finds the time to read or analyze them to any great extent, which is is always a bit disappointing to me, considering the rock-bottom prices at which I make them available to her!

So much to my surprise, she came to me the other day with a copy of the recent digital printing study in hand, and said she was working on a quote for 900 copies of a 24-page newsletter. Finished size of the self-cover newsletter was to be 8.5 x 11″. More specifically, the job was to consist of 6 11 x 17″ page signatures, no bleeds, digitally printed on 100# coated text. Signatures where to be collated, folded, stapled and face-trimmed. 

Mary said she found the newsletter pricing section on pages 55-57, but all that she could find were average and median prices for either 16-page or 32-page newsletters, and she needed a price for a 24-page newsletter. I told her that wouldn’t be too hard to come up with a price, at the very least we could interpolate pricing.

Pricing Per Newsletter

Voila! I found an even easier way, something I had forgotten. Not only does our study offer average and median prices for quantities ranging between 100 and 2,500, it also features pricing per individual newsletter as well. In fact, it provides average and median price per newsletter as well as what we term “majority low” and “majority high” pricing as well.

So the first thing we did is look at the average price per newsletter at the 1,000 quantity level for both a 16-page newsletter and then pricing for a 32-page version. Average digital color pricing for the 16-page newsletters was $2.68. Pricing for the 32-page newsletters was $4.87.  Averaging the two produced and average price per newsletter of $3.78.

Knowing the quantity was very close to the 1,000 quantity pricing we chose to go with that price and simply multiply our $3.78 x 900 for a total price of $3,397. Mary’s original price was significantly higher, but to be honest, I have no idea what her final price was for the job, but at least I can say she was better informed regarding digital color pricing for this quantity, format and size than she was before, but don’t let on I said that!

Even more useful, the digital color pricing in the newsletter pricing section is the fact that the study actually breaks down pricing to the signature level, so we could look at pricing per side, per signature and discover that pricing ranges between $0.33 and $0.30 each. 

Does Study Cover All Products?

No, the study couldn’t possibly cover every type of product offered in the industry, but by using interpolation, averaging and a big dose of common sense, you can find sample pricing for dozens and dozens of products produced on digital color devices. As an example, you can find detailed pricing on some of the following products:

  • Flat Sheets, 100# coated text & cover (8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17 sizes)
  • 2-part and 3-part carbonless forms, plain and numbered
  • Retail click pricing (no stock pricing included)
  • Stock Mark-up practices
  • 16-page and 32-page newsletters and booklets
  • Envelope Pricing, black  and 4-c
  • Business Card Pricing, offset, digital and brokered
  • Popular discounting methods for various customers
  • Plus, dozens of variations in terms of quantities and pricing

To read more about this study visit the NPRC Bookstore.

2018 Digital Pricing Study

New Digital Pricing Study Proves Popular

NPRC has released its highly anticipated 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study. This new 100+ page report offers up average and median pricing for dozens of color digital products and services in the printing industry. Data on digital pricing is provided in various formats, including average and median prices for a range of quantities, plus in many cases the price per booklet, sheet or in some cases per signature.

“Hello John,
I just had to let you know how impressed I was with the Digital Pricing Study you just released. While I only spent 30 minutes going over the study, my initial impression is that the quality of this study is as good if not better than previous studies. Thanks for the hard work you and NPRC put into these studies, The printing industry is better off because of studies such as this.”
Armand Girard, Curry Printing & Marketing, Auburn, ME

“An excellent study. It is great to see what other printers are charging for the same products and be able to compare those prices in an organized fashion.”
Kevin Williams, Systems Print & Mail, Laguna Hills, CA

Pricing Study Cover

Cover of New Pricing Study

Publication Price…
PDF Copies… $179.00
Hard Copies… $191.00

NPRC Member Pricing
PDF Pricing… $89.50
Hard Copies… $95.50

 Discover what fellow printers from
around the country are charging for…
Graphic Services – Standard and Complex
Variable Data 4/4 cards (sizes 4.25 x 5.5 and 5.5 x 8.5)
Flat sheets, 100# Text & Cover (finished sizes 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17)
Rack Cards – 4/0 and 4/4, finished size 4 x 9, full-bleed
2-Part and 3-Part Carbonless forms, plain and numbered
Click Charges Only for quantities ranging from 500 to 5,000!
16-page and 32-page newsletters (qtys. 100 – 2,500)
32-page Booklets – finished size.5 x 8.5 (qtys. 100 – 2,500)
#10 and 9 x 12 Envelopes – Blk only and 4-C (qtys. 100 – 2,500)
Plus many, many other prices with majority high-low guidelines

Special Note to Survey Participants – Please note that printing firms who participated in our Digital Color Pricing survey receive an email and link for downloading the FREE PDF of the study on Dec. 2oth and Dec. 21st, 2017. Please check your trash and deleted folders as well as your spam folders if you are unable to find the email used to distribute this study. The subject line used to advise participants was: “Urgent – Here’s Your 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study.”

Visit the NPRC Bookstore to place your order.