The Growth in Value-Added Design Services

A recent survey by Clemson University’s Graphic Communications Department found that commercial printers were adding creative services or design to drive business growth. In an article published on, Erica Walker, a faculty member in the Department of Graphic Communications at Clemson University, discussed this research. Four responses were head and shoulders higher than the rest, but it appears that large format printing may not have been one of the services included in the survey.

The growth in Creative Services is consistent with the InfoTrends projections of growth. InfoTrends, now a division of Keypoint Intelligence, reported in their U.S. Document Outsourcing Market Forecast: 2013-2018 that creative services would grow from $365M to $447M.
The Clemson research found that commercial printers cited several advantages to bringing creative services in-house. Respondents said that the main reasons were:

  • better control of job timelines (32%),
  • customers expect it (27%),
  • produce press-ready artwork from the outset (20%),
  • more cost effective (10%).

Adding Creative or Design Services

One of the obvious questions if you are considering adding design services is how expensive and challenging is the implementation.  Fortunately, the equipment and staff are readily available.  Hardware and software are the easiest because generally all that is required is a Macintosh computer and the Adobe Creative Suite.
Unlike the challenge in finding print production staff, the creative and designer market is healthy. According to the IBISWorld’s Graphic Designers market research report, the design industry is a $11B business with over 160K people working in over 135K businesses. According to the study, “Over the past five years, new participants have surged into the Graphic Designers industry amid relatively stagnant demand for industry services. Growth in advertising expenditure and manufacturing output have helped sustain demand for design work related to product promotion and packaging.”
Finally, gauging customer demand must be done. Also, called listening to the voice of the customer, it is important to quantify if the demand exists to justify the investment. Typically, this is accomplished with 1-1 meetings, focus groups, and/or surveys.

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