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Mainland Advertising Equipment Now Said to Rival Quality of Imports

A massive growth in the domestic advertising industry has had a sizable knock-on to the related equipment sector, including printers and lighting arrays. This has seen domestic manufacturers challenge imported items in quality terms.

Photo: LED advertising light boxes: A bright spot for the industry.
LED advertising light boxes: A bright spot for the industry.
Photo: LED advertising light boxes: A bright spot for the industry.
LED advertising light boxes: A bright spot for the industry.

The advertising product equipment market is experiencing impressive growth across the mainland, with environmentally friendly products and LED lighting appearing to have particularly bright prospects. Spurred by rapid growth in the domestic advertising industry, the related product equipment sector enjoyed a bumper year in 2013, recording a revenue of Rmb501.98 billion.

Photo: On-site sign-making sessions.
On-site sign-making sessions.
Photo: On-site sign-making sessions.
On-site sign-making sessions.

While production of advertising equipment has improved, industry insiders maintain there is considerable scope for further development, particularly in terms of design, equipment manufacturing, dyes, paper, lighting and electronic software. It's estimated that market could eventually be worth in excess of Rmb100 billion.

A recent exhibition at Beijing's China National Convention Center showcased a huge range of advertising production equipment, including digital inkjet printers, engraving and cutting machines, and sign making equipment. The advertising materials and supplies on offer ranged from light-box fabrics to organic glass.

According to the show organisers, the current phase of upgrades to advertising production equipment have been driven by industry demand. This has seen domestically-produced items now becoming comparable in quality to imported items. In addition, locally produced green products are becoming ever more popular.

According to one printing equipment exhibitor, domestic manufacturers sometimes outperform their foreign counterparts in terms of price, technology standards and colour recovery. Part of the reason for this is these manufacturers are now cooperating on technical matters with foreign companies, while also bringing in overseas technical expertise and continuing to innovate in their own right.

Digital ad printing adds value

This view was echoed by another exhibitor who maintained that the technical standard of domestic equipment has risen dramatically in recent years. This, he said, has forced overseas manufacturers to cut prices and increase their promotional activities in what is now, essentially, a buyers' market. This is particularly the case for good quality, energy-saving and environmentally friendly products, many of which now have a decided competitive edge.

Photo: A promotional equipment installation at the show.
A promotional equipment installation at the show.
Photo: A promotional equipment installation at the show.
A promotional equipment installation at the show.

The global market for ad printing equipment is also showing sustained growth. This is due mainly to the development of virtual and digital printing equipment with value-added functions, developments that are superseding traditional planographic, flexographic and Toppan printing equipment.

Many market analysts have acknowledged that that the new-generation of ad printing machines are more efficient than older generation printers, with increased automation simplifying operations. Ad printing and production enterprises are now able to buy one new printer that can do the work of two or three older printers.

A report on the future of the global printing equipment market, carried out by the Pira research company, suggests that China, Brazil, India and Russia will be the biggest buyers of such devices over the next few years. The report also suggests the market will be worth US$22.7 billion by 2017. This will lead to the further digitalisation of ad printing as well as to printing equipment upgrades.

Indoor, outdoor and online advertising

The wide range of indoor and outdoor advertising products at the expo ranged from traditional neon lights, to stylish LED signs and three-sided ad prisms. Sign systems on offer included signage materials, accessories and materials for logos. In the heavy equipment section, the machines ran at full speed – as they would in a workshop – demonstrating their full capabilities and enthralling many visitors.

Photo: Hand-on demonstrations.
Hand-on demonstrations.
Photo: Hand-on demonstrations.
Hand-on demonstrations.
Photo: A large-scale digital printer in action.
A large-scale digital printer in action.
Photo: A large-scale digital printer in action.
A large-scale digital printer in action.

One important facet of the business environment on the Chinese mainland is the way that the internet and new media have generated new modes of advertising. There is, for instance, interactive media advertising, animation and direct-mail media advertising. These differ from traditional advertising in their dissemination and methods of production. Popup adverts on websites, for example, require a new kind of expertise to produce.

A website advertising production engineer, a Mr Cheng, said there were now changes to both content and production standards every few years. This meant it was essential to upgrade hardware and keep abreast of software developments. Cheng said his company now employed professionals with expertise in music production, dubbing and photography among others.

Seeing the LED light

In other trends, an international "incandescent lamp ban" is said having a real impact on the global lighting market. Meanwhile, upstream technological advances and rapidly falling chip prices have narrowed the gap between LED lighting and traditional lighting product prices. Mainland LED product prices are falling at an annual rate of 15-20%, ensuring the market potential remains considerable.

As such, the expo featured a dedicated LED section aimed at highlighting the industry's achievements to date. According to the expo organiser, China has made significant progress in terms of technology, scale and products. There are a number of problems, however, notably overcapacity, inconsistent product performance and excessive price competiveness.

A number of exhibitors were of the view that the LED industry has yet to fully mature, with no true market leaders yet emerging. In light of this, there remains an opportunity for the right manufacturer achieve a degree of dominance by developing core products with a competitive edge. In this case marketing and supply chain management would also need to be taken into account in order to achieve sustainable development.

Photo: Branding options abound.
Branding options abound.
Photo: Branding options abound.
Branding options abound.
Photo: Marketing machinery on show.
Marketing machinery on show.
Photo: Marketing machinery on show.
Marketing machinery on show.

The 2014 Beijing International Advertising and LED Exhibition was held at the China National Convention Center in Beijing from 27-29 Aug, 2014.

Xu Lin, Special Correspondent, Beijing

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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