A new phase of growth in signage

Alok Singh attends HP's Open House in Hong Kong along with 30 Indian print providers and sur veys signage display - and patterns, which point to interesting market developments

21 Apr 2010 | By Alok Singh

Hong Kong's GDP in 2009 was worth US$210.70- billion. The economy is buoyant due to growth in business, trade, investment and finance. This reflects in the out-of-home (OOH) print market which jots the Hong Kong city scape.

Sin Fung Advertising (SFA) drives the OOH segment in the island city.

This company which manages high-profile locations like Hong Kong airport and mass transit rail, had humble beginnings. They produced handmade stickers 20 years ago along with an offset operation. In 1995, the company started to cater to the digital signage market in this bustling city.

SFA occupies four distinct floors in a multi-floored building, which houses 80 professionals working on a fleet of 15 HP printers. This enables them to service Hong Kong's iconic bus shelters, where they boast of 90% market-share.

Thirty-seven year-old Wilson Choi, director of Sing Fung, says: "We have produced  4,000 sqmtr of taxi stickers in three days. We can print stunning visuals for close and personal encounters. We have installed capacity to print enough material to cover a 5000 sqmtr soccer field in less than four hours."

Sin Fung has reaped the rewards of accessing the right equipment at the right time. They added HP wide-format printers, every  year. This grew along with Hong Kong government's spend on advertising jobs on bus and taxi fleet, tram and rail systems, which has upped from 20% to 50%. Most jobs being produced on HP Scitex Turbojets.

Eye signage market

It is to underscore the action in the wide-format in the digital space that HP hosted an open house for 120 print service providers (PSPs) from 17 Asia Pacific countries. The reason: the inauguration of the HP Scitex Regional Solutions Centre in Hong Kong. What was interesting was more than 30 leading PSPs from India visited the 9,500 sqft centre.

This makes sense. During his presentation, Pratap Bose, the CEO of Mudra Max, says: "The growing trend of out-of-home lifestyles has relevance. India has emerging opportunities in OOH especially in major metros, mini-metros and cities with retail and outdoor display and signage booming."

Given the world rankings in the total contributions in ad spend, India is third with a US$ 3465 million a 52.2% growth after China's US$10194 (a 63.5% growth) and Brazil with US$7723 (a 79.6% growth).  But these three countries command a majority share in the OOH business and set to drive the Asia Pacific growth in the display and signage industry.

In addition to Bose, there were presentations from key persons in Mediawide Labs, 3M, Magnify Media and of course, HP.

Challenges and opportunities

Puneet Chadha, director, HP India, says: "The expansion of Scitex Regional Solutions Centre marks HP's renewed thrust on catering to the growing signage market in Asia Pacific."

Chadha adds, "This is a good demo-site for Indian customers who want a first-hand feel of different applications, trends, benchmark different substrates and more. The Indian PSPs get exposed to understand the challenges and opportunities that exist in other Asia Pacific countries. It can be useful to see the machines running simulated in an environment with local substrates and applications."

HP has multiple regional open house centres for signage: the signage demo centre in Hong Kong and the centre of excellence for Indigo commercial and industrial products in Singapore.

The Hong Kong centre is a live example of the creative applications that is possible with HP's wide-format range, like printed wraps on the walls, floors, toilet doors, lifts and staircases produced on devices such as the Scitex FB6100, Designjet L25500 and L65500 printers. To-date HP has shipped more than 100 HP Designjet L65500 printers since its launch in February 2009. Of this India has seen the installation of 24 Designjet L65500 in the past 14 months.

Growth in signage

Martin Carballo, director of the Scitex Graphic Solutions Business in HP Asia Pacific and Japan's (APJ) Imaging and Printing Group (IPG), says: "According to Pira, the digital printed signage output in Asia will account for 58% of global digital printed signage."

The value of the printed signage market in Asia (APJ) will grow by 11.4% in 2013.

India is the second fastest growing print market globally and wide-format growth is expected to be 20.9% (CAGR 2007-2012) according to Pira. The numbers for both digital and signage are encouraging and are among the top print processes.

Digital signage has witnessed a strong penetration and growth in India. It is reported that digital signage in Mumbai is 40% of the total marketshare as opposed to 10% in 2006, informs Chadha.

The signage market is galloping

Strolling through the Hong Kong MTR, bus stands and street and super market, the city is engulfed with display and signs boards with glow effects, translucent visuals, decorative printing on windows and glass doors, 3D advertisement on flat, flexible media and visual communication posters on pressure sensitive films,  billboards and hoardings.

When I talk about this with Wilson, he quips: "Recently, we did a 3-D advertisement on flat, flexible media which was printed on 240 sqmtr of 3M's PVC sticker. The job was rendered in two days. The project was installed on 12 massive columns in the busiest stations. Displayed for three weeks, the posters bagged runner-up prize in the Indoor Decoration Award at the Hong Kong Sign Award."

Companies like Sin Fung are determining signage for translucent visuals on back-lit glass boxes, die-cut sign boards, as well as printing on windows and glass doors.

It's evident that signage is here. From glitzy malls to funky street markets, and trendy boutiques to traditional Chinese product stores and themed shopping districts. If it's evident in Hong Kong, can India be far behind.

The launch of HP Digital Print Awards 2010 for Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) was announced by HP at a gala dinner hosted by HP APJ in Hong Kong.
The Digital Print Awards 2010 APJ – HP Scitex, will recognise the outstanding achievements and contributions of Print Service Providers (PSPs) in the signage industry across Asia Pacific and Japan.


The Digital Print Awards 2010 will have five key categories:

  1. transit graphic covers vehicle wraps and fleet graphics
  2. interior advertising including POS materials, interior     signage and floor or wallpaper graphics
  3. outdoor advertising covers building wraps, billboard signage, floor graphics, backlit signage and textile (flags and banners) graphics
  4. printing on rigid substrates includes any decorative printing on rigid substrates such as glass or ceramic or wood
  5. green digital printing covering print jobs done with a combination of inks and printing substrates used.

All five categories will have three winners – Gold, Silver and Bronze.

A total of 16 awards will be given in all the five categories. These categories will supersede with a Platinum Award for one overall winner from across all the categories.

The evaluation for judgement will be done on parameters of - creativity, appearance, marketing appeal, best use of inks and colours and client satisfaction.

Entries to the awards are open and will close on 30 April 2010. The winners of 2010 will be notified by 31 May 2010. Results will be officially announced during the Awards Dinner on 7 July 2010 at the 18 Shanghai International Advertising and Sign Technology and Equipment.