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PSA Vinyl Usage Trends

Vector Marketing released their 2002 PSA Vinyl Trends Report in December of 2002. This report is an in-depth look at PSA vinyl usage and purchasing trends in the U.S. sign and screen-print markets.

By Vector Marketing

It is an essential research tool with detailed information on PSA vinyl brand market shares, performance ratings of vinyl suppliers, and distribution channels utilized within the sign and screen print industries. In addition to overall industry statistics, results are also reported by business type or type of shop. The following text in an excerpt from this report.

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  • PSA Vinyl Purchasing and Usage Trends
    Survey respondents were asked to report the percentage of their jobs incorporating PSA vinyl as a decoration method, as a component of a sign or graphic, or as a screen print substrate. Respondents in the sign market report that 63% of their jobs incorporated PSA. Screen printers, meanwhile, used PSA vinyl as a printing substrate or graphics component in 46% of their screen print jobs.

    The higher vinyl use by franchise and vinyl shops is typical. The higher volume of banners and short-term signage produced by these business types consist of decoration mainly produced with opaque PSA vinyl; these shops also have limited ability and equipment to produce signs with any other method. Electric and commercial shops, while showing some usage growth, are more-likely to incorporate decoration methods other than vinyl for sign making (such as routing, sandblasting, and engraving) to fabricate much larger and higher-end signage than their vinyl and franchise peers.

    The lowest occurrence of PSA vinyl usage -- among screen printers overall -- is not surprising, since this segment utilizes a wide variety of printables for sign fabrication, including rigid substrates (such as corrugated plastic sheeting), paper stock and synthetic fabrics for banners and other “soft” signage.

    The question of punched or unpunched PSA vinyl, with one exception, is moving clearly in favor of purchases of unpunched media. Within the overall sign market, the 51%-49% edge held in 2001 by punched material clearly swung to unpunched this year by a 56%-44% margin. Screen printers, meanwhile, are moving toward an all-unpunched market, choosing the material for 88% of work versus 12% punched.

    Electric and vinyl shops now favor unpunched vinyl by a 2-to-1 ratio; the larger graphics printed by electric shops, for example, will likely be wider than can be handled by current 15” and 30”-width sprocket-fed plotters now in the market. Commercial shops are marginally heading for more unpunched material as they continue to replace older sprocket-fed plotters with friction-feed devices.

    A new topic in this year’s survey was high-performance (HP) calendered PSA vinyl usage and growth trends. HP calendered is a relatively new product, with several vinyl manufacturers trying to address the needs of the cast-vinyl buyer with long-term material durability at a lower cost.

    For HP calendered manufacturers, the perceived awareness of calendered segmentation by durability shown is a half-full, half-empty situation. For sign and screen markets overall, half of survey respondents are aware of the different categories and durability ratings of calendered. One of three sign shops and one in four screen printers are unsure about category and durability differences ­ so there’s a large market segment that managed to hear some of the message about HP calendered, but didn’t quite understand it.

    The shops sensitive to vinyl pricing ­ vinyl and franchises in the sign sector, and large screen printers ­appear to be the most receptive to HP calendered usage.

    Of those purchasing HP calendered PSA vinyl today, half of the shops find HP calendered performance adequate by agreeing most with the statement “HP calendered is good enough for that particular job.

    Two markets that showed the lowest acceptance of the “good enough” statement, electric and vinyl, are the two segments most-concerned with product performance and are therefore less likely to accept HP calendered as a cast alternative.

    However, across the board, the “good enough” statement scored the highest with HP calendered users of the three answers offered ­ and the other two specifically mentioned the material as being less expensive. Of the survey respondents using HP calendered instead of HP cast, the clear message is that HP calendered’s lower price is not the sole reason for usage ­ the material clearly meets performance expectations.

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    Attributes Important When Choosing A PSA Vinyl Brand
    The survey also broke new ground this year in determining the importance of criteria considered by shops when selecting a brand of PSA vinyl. As might be expected, price plays an important part in selecting a brand ­ but it’s not the top concern.

    For the overall sign and screen-print markets, product quality and vinyl performance in the field ranks highest among all other attributes when making a vinyl brand selection. Other production issues also ranked higher than price, including ease of application and the cutting/weedability of the vinyl.

    Manufacturer reputation and the user’s familiarity with a brand get lower importance rankings. It’s worth noting that the largest users of vinyl among the business types surveyed ­ commercial, electric and large screen shops ­ ranked these image/identity attributes higher than smaller-volume businesses, perhaps because the larger shops deal more with clients and/or jobs that specify vinyl and require a warranty on the material.

    Vinyl warranties and handling of warranty issues also register a lower importance than other attributes. The highest scores in these areas came from electric shops and large screen printers, which relates mainly to the predominance of corporate clients requiring warranty protection on durability and color-fade issues. Corporate-client demands also play a part with the relatively high ranking, when compared with other sectors, given by electric shops for custom-color programs.

    Important Attributes When Choosing A Distributor of PSA Vinyl
    An addition to the survey this year is a look at the attributes that sign and screen shops see as important when choosing a PSA vinyl distributor. While price might be perceived as the overriding concern, based on our survey responses it appears that the graphics industry really wants service when buying vinyl.

    Product availability and quick-delivery time rank as the most-important attributes. These attributes receive the highest rankings within each business type surveyed, making it one of the clearest messages in PSA vinyl distribution; customers want their material in stock, and they want it now

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