Diana Watkins


Printing had been the uncontested primary media format for over five hundred years--with the commercial printing industry also thriving--until the late 1990s, when abnormal cost patterns and disruptive new media technologies worked together to permanently change the world economy and media landscape. Romano (2010a) estimated that 20% of all print production in the US had disappeared between 1995 and 2010. Many different theories have been posited to commercial printers as to how best to survive, but the overall message has been relatively consistent: print companies cannot rely on economic growth to regain business. Instead, they must adapt to the changing media environment (Cummings & Chhita, 2004). The purpose of this research study was to discover which strategies commercial printing companies have employed to remain successful, despite the shrinking and ever-changing print business market. To achieve this, the researcher conducted open-ended interviews with leadership in the businesses in question. Common themes or trends were identified amongst the studied companies through comparisons of their responses. In addition, this research explored how these companies defined success--as a combination of recognition, persistent growth, and sustained or improved profitability--and to what degree the leadership felt the company had achieved it. This study found four primary categories of factors which had been the most influential in sustaining the participating companies' success through the years 2001 to 2011. These changes and practices consisted of: * Continually developing efficiencies through initiatives, training, and investment; * Regularly investing in new technologies and capabilities to improve efficiencies and gain market share; * Regular assessment and strategic repositioning of their marketing mix based on industry trends, emerging markets, and their existing customers' needs; * Business management practices to strategically evaluate and manage these investments and changes, with the goal of continually improving their operations. Through a combination of these factors, the participants have positioned themselves to survive and thrive in the near future, despite the shrinking market and constantly evolving technologies. These factors are also readily applicable to other commercial printers, and reinforce the impact of the strategic business practices recommended by industry literature as explored in the literature review.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Printing industry--United States--Research; Printing industry--Economic aspects; Printers--Attitudes; Success in business--Public opinion

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Print Media (CIAS)


Birkett, Barbara


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: Z244.6.U5 W38 2012


RIT – Main Campus