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Covid-19 & The Exhibition & Printing Market

17th Apr 2020

Covid-19 needs no introduction. Aside from the catastrophic health implications that the virus has lumbered on so many individuals, the economic impact across the world has been devastating. Economic growth relies on production and demand – Coronavirus has put paid to both, almost in one fell swoop. And perhaps none more so than in the exhibition industry, where demand has disintegrated, and production has followed suit.


How Big is the Global Exhibition Industry?

According to data taken from the UFI, there are an estimated 32,000 exhibitions across the world each year. These attract over 303 million visitors, who are there visiting over 4.5 million delegates. Furthermore, there are an estimated 3.2 million jobs that are supported by the industry alone, and the sector is worth over £250 million to the global economy, on an annual basis.


What is Google Search Behaviour Telling Us?

A strong indicator as to the demand for a product or service, is Google. The search engine giant boasts a market share of around 87%, with over 3.5 billion searches made every day. The exhibition and display industry is a good example of a sector that thrives as a result of search – especially the b2c sector, which Roller Banners UK operate within.

If we take a look at the search behaviour for people in the market for exhibitions, it is of no great surprise that this has dropped substantially, since the outbreak of Covid-19 – as the graph below shows:


Furthermore, breaking down the data further still, we can make the following observations:

  • The number of consumers in the market, on Google, for exhibition display stands is at just 5% of what it was in the middle of January.
  • Even up until the start of March, the market on Google for the industry was fairly strong – 75% of its peak over the past 90 days.
  • The sharpest drop in consumer interest was around 7th March – two weeks before Boris Johnson announced that the UK was to be officially locked down as a result of the outbreak – interest almost halved overnight, and continued to deteriorate from thereon in.

However, interestingly, the same cannot be said for the leaflet printing and poster printing markets. Both of these are searched to a much greater degree than exhibition stands, as the graph below shows:

Some data interpretation and analysis tells us the following: the market on Google for exhibition stands, is around 20 % of that for poster printing, and around 50% of that for leaflet printing.

Furthermore, the decline in searches for poster printing is far less harsh, and has declined at nowhere near the rate that exhibition stands has:

In a world where digital is king, and people seek to get their advertising messages and brand presence in online format, the data shows us that the print market is very much still alive.

This is further magnified when we look at trends for the search term, ‘printer near me’ over the last 5 years:

The trend shows a distinct upward curve, and one whereby we can deduce that the offline markets are very much as important as the online ones. Whilst people are searching online, and indeed ordering online, the products are very much for an offline purpose.

One thing is for sure - once Covid19 has finished causing its wave of destruction – make no bones about it – the print market is very much here to stay.