Overview of the signage industry in India

signage industry

The advertising industry of India is undergoing massive growth. The market reached a value of INR 51,000 crore (approximately US$ 8.1 billion) by 2016, recording a CAGR of 11% during 2011-2016. The digital signage for outdoor advertising segment also registered positive growth over the last five years, where verticals such as government and transportation, retail and hospitality witnessed major boost. In India’s digital signage market, indoor applications have recorded major growth owing to a number of installations in areas such as retail outlets, multiplexes, restaurants, pubs and bars and Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs). However, no one seems ready to comment on the exact size of the outdoor advertising industry.

Explanations range from whether this figure reflects the signage value excluding the rental value of the vertical real estate used for signage or because the segment relies heavily on a large number of small printers. Purva Dwivedi of IppStar (www.ippstar.org) based in Noida says, “The informally and unsupported published figures for the Indian signage industry by various sources and even agencies such as Group M and KPMG-Ficci somehow seem to be stuck for the past decade at an unlikely low figure, which is below INR 3,000 crore. However, our own research at IppStar indicates that merely the print value of the signage is at least INR 5,000 crore and when the costs of creative, fabrication, rentals and agency commissions are included, we are talking about a signage industry (excluding digital electronic display screens) in the region of INR 8,000 to INR 10,000 crore. In fact, the industry has scaled to the level that there are now more than 20 Indian manufacturers of flex materials for signage.”

Views about the signage industry seemed to vary from those who say it is stagnant to others who claim that it is dynamic and fast growing. Stagnation is attributed to lack of awareness in semi-urban and rural parts of the country. On the other hand, reliable sources say that it is going through a rapid transformation phase and is becoming organized and mature day-by-day. According to a report providing an in-depth analysis of the Indian signage industry, it was noticed that signage has a significant market share in terms of advertising both in value and volume. It also indicated that the current scenario within the industry hints at massive growth opportunities in the future. The manufacturers of signage boards are adapting and upgrading to all the technological advancements including digital and electronic signage. The leading electronic signage suppliers include Samsung and LG.

“The Indian signage industry has grown significantly in the past few years. Observing the growth in the market over a decade, there are huge opportunities for improvement in business in the coming years,” says Sandeep Loomba of a leading advertising agency Adwala. However, he too feels that the Indian signage industry is lagging behind the international signage market and the growth of the industry will depend largely on the measures taken by the government in coming days. He also notes that there is a need to use more eco-friendly signage solutions. “Most of the Indian companies are still not using eco-friendly solutions because they are not affordable. It should be kept in mind that the government regulations mandate the use of eco-friendly solutions for the industry and it is imperative that all companies follow these,” he explains.

UV signage to the fore
A sizable economy with a high rate of GDP growth, growth in areas of infrastructure, real estate, manufacturing and especially the organized retail sector is immense. “This will definitely accelerate the growth of the Indian signage industry. The advent of global brands and rising consumerism has led to an increase in the demand for quality signage. Though a considerable part of the industry still constitutes solvent-based and flex printing, there is a growing need to shift to UV digital printing and inkjet technology. It is foreseeable that the UV printing trend is going to last for a long time,” says Pradipta Chowdhary, senior product manager – WFIJ, Fujifilm India.

The corporates in the market are demanding innovative solutions from print service providers and the ones who are catering to their client’s specific communication and branding needs with imaginative solutions are triumphing over the others. Outdoor signage commands not only a geography but a specific demographic. For instance, Chetan Bhagat is very clear that he wants to sell a large number of his books to ordinary urban young people. For this reason he was able to publicize his most recent title, One Indian Girl, on the Mumbai local trains using digitally printed outdoor signage. Standard flex printing and vinyl printing are not the norm these days. “Offering innovative solutions improves one’s chances to make higher margins and get more business. To sum up, in this era, innovation is the key for all the companies to endure in the market,” comments Ajay Aggrawal, chief executive officer and managing director of Insight Print Communications Pvt. Ltd.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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