Into the Great Wide Open
So you want to sell wide format. We don't blame you. According to this very magazine's November 2014 Top Distributors feature, the "other" category, which includes wide format, saw sales rise from $61.7 million in 2013 to $89.5 million last year—a 45 percent increase. And while the category also includes digital, packaging and jumbo rolls, among other products and services, those numbers are encouraging for anyone looking to complement their core sales with wide-format products.
"But I don't know anything about wide format," you might be saying. "I have so many questions!" You've come to the right place. We set out to answer some of the wide-format market's frequently asked questions. Here's what we found, on everything from popular products and applications to creative uses and where to look for sales.
What, exactly, is wide-format printing?
Wide format (also referred to as "large format") printers can handle paper or other substrates ranging from 18" to 100" in width (anything larger is typically considered "super wide" format), so anything printed on these machines is considered a wide-format product. That means things like interior and exterior signage, banners, floor graphics, displays, etc.
So, it's only for big stuff?
Nope! According to Ryan Shacklett, president of Denver-based signobi.com, it's got a bunch of other applications, too. "These materials and print methods work fantastic for many other smaller everyday items, from small things like custom-shaped plastic business cards, badges and durable tags to lamp shades and point-of-purchase displays," he said.
What wide-format products do buyers want most right now?
Signs are always popular, but Shacklett noted that many buyers are moving away from flat, rectangular ones in favor of flexible, contour-cut versions. "Using semi-rigid materials allows you to run signs around and in corners, using unique shapes to draw attention and enhance the message," he explained. "Additionally, by creating unique shapes, they not only get more attention, but are more memorable and have far greater perceived value versus actual cost, creating a great area for making even common commodity signs far more profitable."