Inkjet Printer Revenues Rebound on High-End Consumer and Business Sales

Antonio Talia, head of business analysis at CONTEXT
Antonio Talia, head of business analysis at CONTEXT

Revenues from sales of inkjet multifunction printers (MFPs) through European distributors have surged in recent weeks, but not enough to result in year-on-year growth in printer sales for Q2 2022, according to CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

Although revenues from almost all types of printer were higher in May 2022 than in May 2021, overall revenues fell year-on-year in the second quarter”, said Antonio Talia, head of business analysis at CONTEXT. “Higher Average Selling Prices (ASPs), and a different product mix, meant revenues dropped more slowly than unit sales. There were increased sales of high-end consumer printers and mid- and high-end business devices, the latter due partly to office re-openings.

Inkjet MFP sales have also benefited from the scarcity of certain laser printer models and revenues have stood above the 100 baseline on the CONTEXT Revenue Trend Index (RTI) since Week 25 of 2022. (The baseline is the weekly average revenue for 2021.) Supply issues that were still having an impact at the start of this year are being addressed, order backlogs are clearing and, at the same time, there is substantially increased demand from the public sector. This is good news for the market as inkjet MFPs account for over 70% of sales by volume and almost 50% by revenue.

A4 inkjet printers have recently had a greater effect on revenues than A3 models with small businesses in particular looking for high-end consumer and business devices. As a result, this specific part of the market was above 100 on CONTEXT’s RTI in Week 26.

The recent rebound in inkjet cartridge printer sales, particularly those for multifunction devices, has been seen across most major European markets but is particularly strong in Germany and Italy. Revenues have surged in these countries since Week 22 due to solid sales of high-end consumer and business printers. As a result, printer revenues in Germany from this category are following the same trajectory as last year, significantly exceeding revenues from 2020 and standing well above 100 on CONTEXT’s RTI. The same is true in Italy thanks to distributors beginning to ship 100,000 A4 multifunction printers as part of a €55m public tender. The trend is set to continue over the coming weeks with the delivery of further batches of machines for the same project.

Consumer market reaches saturation point

The consumer market appears to be saturated: there has been a dramatic decline in unit sales of entry-level printers over recent weeks. However, consumer revenue fell at a much slower rate thanks to the price increases brought about by continuing shortages of raw materials and components and higher logistics costs, and the product mix leaning towards high-end printers.

Demand for entry-level business printers has also fallen, leading to a year-on-year revenue drop of −9% in Q2 2022. Rising sales of mid- and high-end business devices helped cushion this so revenues from business-targeted printers overall declined by just −5%.

Unit sales of consumables also fell sharply in the second quarter (down by −18%) with declining sales of ink cartridges having a major impact. Here too, revenue dropped at a much slower rate (−7%) due to increased sales of expensive toners for business laser printers.

The Q2 2022 figures for volume sales of consumables are significantly worse than anticipated, even in the pessimistic scenario of the CONTEXT Forecasting Report - Q2 2022, although the revenue based on the same situation was exactly in line with the forecast”, added Antonio. “Conversely, when it comes to hardware, the Q2 figures for unit sales and revenues were very close to CONTEXT's optimistic forecasts.