By Petr Kramerius, Regional Manager at Infosource
1. THE WESTERN EUROPEAN MARKET
1.1. MARKET STATS
The total West European inkjet printers market experienced in the first half-year of 2023 a decrease of 19% compared to H1 2022, to the level of approx. 5.2 million units. Almost all WEU country markets registered decreases, led by declines in the largest markets, setting the downward trend for the total WEU market.
Only two countries reported increases – Austria 10% and Turkey 9%. However, as usual, the total inkjet printer market in H1 2023 was still much larger than the total toner copier/MFPs market in WEU by around 3.4 million units (approx. 5.2 million inkjet units compared to about 1.8 million toner copier/MFPs units).
The largest French market (20.4% share of the total market) decreased by 19%, the German market (18.4% share) declined by 15%, while the UK market (17% share) was down 24%. The fourth-largest Italian market (12.3% share) went down 5%, and the Spanish market (8.3% share) declined by 16%.
Multifunctional (MF) inkjet printers declined 18% and accounted for a 97% share of total inkjet sales in H1 2023 (in Eastern Europe, MF registered a 93% share). Single-function (SF) inkjet unit sales decreased by 28%. The home/consumer personal market was down 15%, while the business market was down 27%. The business market share from the total inkjet market in H1 2023 was 25% (in Eastern Europe, this share was only 8%).
The total ink tank market (CISS – Continuous Ink Supply System) registered a decreasing trend of 15% to about 1.2 million units uncharacteristically. The decline was caused by HP’s decreasing trend in CISS unit sales (sales of the model DeskJet Plus 4155 went down by 74%). The market leader remained Epson, with a market share of 56%, with CISS sales up 5%.
In terms of inkjet A3 sales, this important market (from a revenue point of view) registered a decrease of 3%, which was reflected in most markets in Western Europe, with some exceptions – for example, the largest German market recorded an increase of 3%.
Within the A3 inkjet market, the CISS share was 6.4%, with Epson traditionally holding the total share of 99.8%, with unit sales within the A3 CISS market up by 14% in H1 2023. Brother is the only other brand in this specific market, in second place with an invisible share of 0.2% with the model MFC-T4500 DW.
There were no changes in H1 2023 compared to H1 2022 regarding brand positioning. HP retained its No. 1 position (43.5% market share) for total inkjet sales despite a decrease of 25% when HP home/consumer personal sales were down by 15% and business-class down by 53%. HP sales of CISS devices (introduced to the market in 2016) decreased by 35%, and the total CISS sales still represented 18% of HP’s total inkjet sales in WEU. HP continued to promote its “Instant Ink” program in several countries when customers subscribe to a timely cartridge replacement service when the device runs low on ink (the printer sends ink-level information to HP).
Canon’s total unit sales were down 18% in H1 2023 when its market share remained approx. 27% as in H1 2022. Home/personal inkjet sales were down 18%, and the business category was down 17%. Canon sales of CISS devices decreased by 16%, accounting for 7% of Canon’s total inkjet sales in H1 2023.
Epson’s total market share decreased by 3% in H1 2023 despite total sales dropping by 10%, with its home/consumer personal inkjet sales down 12%. Business category sales decreased by 8%. Epson was one of two brands to register an increase in CISS sales – by 15% to around 641k units (no. 1 position in CISS sales), representing 47% of Epson’s total inkjet sales. Epson introduced to the market in FY 2022 several new models of the EcoTank line-up.
Brother’s total market share improved by 1% in H1 2023, while its sales increased by 1%. Its home/consumer personal inkjet sales increased by 32%, business segment sales decreased by 10%, and CISS sales increased by 115% (to 7k units), representing 4% of Brother’s total inkjet sales.
Within the home/consumer personal devices market, HP has placed six models within the top ten, with the top three places taken by DeskJet 2710 e-AiO, DeskJet 2720 e-AiO and DeskJet 2723 e-AiO. Both Canon and Epson placed two models within the top ten. Epson placed six models in the top ten within the business class category. The top three models were EcoTank ET-2850, EcoTank ET-2820 and EcoTank ET-2810. HP filled in the remaining four places with Envy Inspire 7224e AiO (4th), OfficeJet Pro 7740 WF AiO (6th), OfficeJet Pro 9010 All-in-One (8th) and OfficeJet Pro 8022 AiO (10th). In the CISS category, another similar situation as Epson and HP shared the top ten bestseller models list with five models each, with the top spot taken by HP’s DeskJet Plus 4110, followed by the above-mentioned Epson’s EcoTank models. Canon’s highest position within the CISS models ranking was 28th with Pixma G 3520.
2. THE EASTERN EUROPEAN MARKET
2.1. MARKET STATS
The East European inkjet printers market in H1 2023 decreased by 29% to around 767k units (the total inkjet printer market was smaller than the total EEU toner copier/MFPs market by approximately 40k units). For a broader view, the entire East European inkjet market represented only about 15% of the whole Western European inkjet market in unit sales.
The majority of country markets registered decreases, with the only exceptions of Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Ukraine. The formerly largest Russian market contracted from approx. 158k to 8k units, enhancing the EEU market movement into a downward spiral. Regarding Kazakhstan, a reexport to Russia might be involved (figures declared for Kazakhstan, but the devices end up in Russia), resulting in increased figures.
The largest market, Poland (37.4% share), decreased by 13%, followed by the Czech Republic (16.1% share), which registered a decrease of 20%, and Romania (7.4% share), down 35%. In 4th place, Kazakhstan reported an increase of 38%, the Ukrainian market went up by 28%, and Lithuania increased by 9%. However, in some cases, as in the case of Kazakhstan and Lithuania, the gains are most likely due to reexports to the Russian market.
The multifunctional (MF) inkjet printer market decreased by 28% and represented 93% of the total inkjet market (in Western Europe, MF represented 97%), while single-function (SF) printer sales were down 38%. The home/consumer personal market in H1 2023 declined by 30%, while the business fell by 16%.
The business market share of the total inkjet market in H1 2023 was around 8% (in Western Europe, this share was 25%, as mentioned above). The entire ink tank (CISS) market decreased by 28%, while the inkjet A3 market was up 4%. Within the A3 inkjet market, the CISS share was 37%, with Epson as the only brand in this category (Brother did not place any units in H1 2023 in this segment), when the A3 CISS unit sales decreased 10%.
Regarding brands in H1 2023, HP retained its number one position in the total inkjet market, as in the previous periods, despite a significant % decline in unit sales by 31%. Regardless of a sales decrease by 16%, Epson overtook Canon at the 2nd place, while Canon at 3rd position reported a sales decrease of 43%.
HP (40.6% share) registered a decrease in total sales in H 2023, partly due to vacating the Russian market. Its home/consumer, personal inkjet sales decreased by 29%, while its business-class inkjet sales were down by 46%. HP’s sales of CISS devices were down by 49% (to approx. 66k units) and represented 21% of HP’s total inkjet sales in EEU.
Epson’s market share (26.3%) increased by 4% in H1 2023 despite decreased total sales. The home/consumer, personal inkjet sales declined by 20%, and the business segment sales increased by 26% to approx. 29k units, but still securing Epson the No. 1 position in the business inkjet market with a 49.2% share. Epson’s CISS sales went down by 22% to 173k units and secured Epson the No. 1 position in this market with a 53% share. The CISS sales represented an 86% share of Epson’s total inkjet sales.
Canon’s market share (25.7%) decreased by 6% in H1 2023 due to an increase in unit sales of only 1%, while the home/consumer personal inkjet sales fell 44% and the business-class inkjet sales decreased by 5%. On the other hand, Canon’s sales of CISS devices decreased by 34% (62k units) and accounted for 31% of total Canon’s inkjet sales.
Brother’s market share increased to 7% despite a unit sales increase of 20%, with home/consumer personal inkjet sales up 21%, while business inkjet increased by 15%. Brother’s CISS sales registered an increase of 22% (47k units) and represented an 87% share of Brother’s total inkjet sales within EEU.
Within the home/consumer personal devices market, HP successfully placed six of its models from the DeskJet line-up within the top ten bestsellers. The number one position was taken by DeskJet 2710 e-AiO, followed by DeskJet 2720 e-AiO and DeskJet 2723 e-AiO. Epson placed five models in the business inkjet category, with the number one bestseller WorkForce Pro WF-M5799 DWF. Epson also had five models in the CISS category, but the no. 1 bestseller EcoTank ET-L3250, followed by EcoTank ET-L3251.
3. EPSON’S HEAT-FREE TECHNOLOGY AND NEW WORKFORCE ENTERPRISE AM SERIES
In November 2022, Epson reaffirmed its significant commitment to Heat-Free inkjet technology and to developing sustainable technologies, backed up by a previously announced ¥100 billion investment over the next ten years. The move also coincides with the beginning of the rollout of Epson’s new range of business inkjet multifunction printers and the company announcing it will end the sale and distribution of laser printer hardware in its last remaining Asian and European markets by 2026. Explaining these decisions, the company cites the more significant potential of inkjet to make meaningful advances in sustainability. Epson will continue to support customers by supplying consumables and repair parts after it ceases sales of laser printer hardware.
Epson’s Heat-Free Technology does not require heat in the ink ejection process. Instead, pressure is applied to the Piezo element, which flexes backwards and forwards, firing the ink from the printhead. As inkjets have no fuse unit to heat, this technology consumes less energy.
Epson has also begun rolling out its new range of office inkjet MFPs, which will be available worldwide since April 2023. Leveraging the company’s proprietary piezo Heat-Free line-head technology, the new WorkForce Enterprise AM-Series is an important addition to Epson’s business print portfolio. The new range provides print speeds of 40-60ppm, addressing the mid-range speed market and complementing the rest of the Epson business inkjet line-up. The new range comprises the WorkForce Enterprise AM-C6000, AM-C5000 and AM C-4000 A3 line head multifunction printers with the lowest power consumption in their classes.
With a compact footprint and lightweight design, these new MFPs will help limit resources used during production and shipping. High-yield ink packs also reduce material usage, shipping, storage and end-of-use management of consumables, as well as reducing downtime for routine maintenance.
4. BROTHER’S NEW COLOUR INKJET PRINTER
Late last year, Brother launched a first-to-market multifunction printer as resellers move to support businesses wanting to produce high-quality signage and banners. The MFC-J6959DW device is the first non-specialist, colour inkjet printer offering firms a way to create visuals, from sales banners to promotional signage. In H1 2023, Brother sold 204 units in WEU and 40 in EEU.
The model is fitted with an automatic cutting tool so large, photographic-quality banners and posters of up to 2.7m in length can be produced ad-hoc and cut to a custom size. The printer delivers print speeds of up to 30 images per minute, features a 250-sheet standard A4 paper tray, and the option to use the roll-holding tray as a 500-sheet standard tray, letting the printer also handle a wide range of office printing duties.
The inkjet model also offers significantly faster first-page printing times than a colour laser alternative or full-size printing press, both of which take time to warm up. Devices can also come equipped with optional high-yield in-box supplies of up to 6,000 pages on black ink and 5,000 pages on colour, keeping users productive and printing for longer before replacing consumables.
Brother’s new device can also be used across various sectors, including in construction for architect’s drawings and plans, for facilities management schematics, and to produce Gantt Charts on Microsoft Excel. The launch was part of a significant upgrade of Brother’s inkjet printers last year, which boosted device lifespans and performance across the range, and the launch of a market-first A4 inkjet cutting printer in the range earlier in 2023.
5. LAWSUIT IN THE US AGAINST HP
At the beginning of August, a court in California proceeded with a lawsuit claiming that HP intentionally designed its all-in-one printers to be unable to scan or fax when they are low on ink as a means to increase profit by boosting ink sales.
Customers in the filled class action said HP concealed how its printers enter an “error state” when low on ink, turning off scanning and faxing functions that do not require ink and forcing them to buy unnecessary, high-margin ink cartridges. The court found sufficient allegations that HP knew about the defect, citing a message board post where a support agent told a customer that his printer “would not function” without ink. The court also commented that the customers could try to prove that HP had a duty to disclose the defect based on its “superior knowledge” that the printers could be disabled.
The customers say they would not have bought or paid less for their printers had they known of the alleged defect.
6. INKJET PRODUCTION PRINTING
Since FY 2019, inkjet technology has also appeared successfully within the production printing segment, represented by Kyocera’s TASKalfa Pro 15000c. Since FY 2019, there have been around 120 units of this model within WEU (from this number, 35 units in H1 2023) and about 10 in EEU. This device is quickly gaining ground and competing against toner/laser production devices due to its favourable parameters, which are generally compared to toner/laser (among others) these:
- Very low costs for color printing
- Price of A4 print = 50% A3
- Color printing for the price of BW printing
- Format SRA3
- 50% elektricity consumption
- More than 90% effectivity
- Contactless printing
- Printing quality = offset on uncoated paper
Kyocera’s inkjet production device balances high output and low consumption. While average printing job lengths are falling, the number of printing jobs is rising, which is incompatible with how offset presses work. They take too long to set up, you can’t switch easily from one job to the next, and you can’t include variable data. Toner printers can do these things, but only for low-volume work, as the costs per page increase substantially once output exceeds a few thousand sheets. The TASKalfa Pro 15000c machine can warm up from standby in just 60 seconds, meaning less time waiting and more time printing. For comparison, an offset press requires up to 20 minutes to prepare before you can start printing because there are so many moving parts and settings to adjust. Once it’s warmed up, it takes less than 5 seconds to produce the first impression. These high speeds make the TASKalfa Pro 15000c extremely productive, capable of hitting monthly output levels of 1,000,000 impressions. In terms of maintenance, inkjet devices are generally less prone to breakdowns than offset or toner because they have fewer moving parts.
Inkjet is, therefore, emerging as the best alternative within the production printing segment, bringing high speed and productivity to digital printing. As many customers used the device exclusively for BW printing, Kyocera introduced in H1 2023 also a mono variation, printing only in BW.
As Kyocera owns Triumph Adler, its traditional OEM partner, Triumph Adler also introduced an inkjet production printing device to the market – the Pro 15050c, identical to Kyocera’s TASKalfa 15000c.
Both the total WEU and EEU inkjet markets in H1 2023 registered decreases, which is a continuation of the previous decline trend set in FY 2022, which, up to FY 2022, was not a typical situation for the inkjet segment. Obviously, some markets in WEU are getting saturated, and regarding EEU, the „official“disappearance of the total inkjet market was mainly created by the havoc in the Russian market because the inkjet brands left the market, and the new brands are mostly toner/laser-based. However, in Russia, it is possible to buy some inkjet devices due to unofficial parallel import. A characteristic feature of the whole Russian printing market at the moment is that, besides the official market, there is a strongly developed market of parallel imports over which the brands do not have control.
There were and are currently two main groups of negative factors affecting the European and worldwide business, each with different intensity within each given country market. It is tough to precisely evaluate each element’s impact and the combined factors’ impact. One group of factors stems from the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, causing economic sanctions from the West against Russia. The consequences of the sanctions consist mainly of high energy costs, substantial transport and distribution disruptions, record inflation, and tighter monetary policy. The Russian market has been in fundamental confusion since the invasion. It will be unstable for some time, reverberating instability all over (and not only) the European area. The second group of factors recorded less influence within WEU – for example, components shortages, long delivery dates (especially microchips and semiconductors), high transport prices, etc.
Regarding the inkjet devices in general, stable high print quality, lower investment costs, unique offerings to customers regarding ink savings, and other special incentives will continue to support the inkjet device’s appeal to the customers in the future. Inkjet office devices will also intensify the pressure on the toner/laser office segment as in the production printing segment.
By Petr Kramerius, Regional Manager, Infosource
Phone: +420 607 887 117
e-mail: [email protected]