Amid market disruption and a continued decline in home printing, inkjet vendors are working hard to change business customers’ perceptions and increase demand for business inkjets. In the SOHO market, customers have historically associated inkjet AiOs with home and photo printing, as well high costs and slow speeds. On the other hand, these customers who are looking for a printing device to use in their office are still inclined to head towards the laser aisle. In order to change demand for business inkjets, vendors are increasing investments in the segment at the retail level.
Inkjet AiO vendors aim to take share away from small office laser MFPs by offering stronger-configured inkjet AiOs that promise both cost and speed advantages. The move towards generating demand for SOHO devices is apparent at the retail level and is illustrated using gap intelligence’s new PowerPivot Pricing & Promotions reports. As shown in the charts below, all inkjet segments excluding A4 business inkjet AiOs have declined or remain unchanged year-over-year from March 2013 to March 2014. In contrast, retail placements for A4 business inkjet AiOs have increased by 16% year-over-year, demonstrating that vendors and their retail partners expect demand to shift from home/photo to business devices.
Following a shift in retail assortments, vendors are investing more on advertisements for A4 business inkjet AiOs, primarily with instant savings incentives. Leveraging gap intelligence’s new PowerPivot reports, our retail data indicates that ad counts at national retailers including Best Buy, Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples have significantly increased year-over-year by 34.6% from 130 ads in March 2013 to 175 in March 2014. Best Buy demonstrated the strongest growth in A4 business inkjet AiO ad counts, with a year-over-year increase of 63.6%.
The strong growth in ad counts is attributable in part to HP’s notable investments in its Officejet Pro X series’ retail presence. Through the introduction of its PageWide MFPs, HP has positioned itself as a leader in establishing credibility for high-speed business inkjets. The more robust MFPs are designed to target laser installments with their faster print speeds and lower TCO. With the launch of these devices, HP has helped to legitimize page wide array technology that targets business laser MFPs. To the surprise of some industry watchers, HP has supported its Officejet Pro X devices with a strong retail presence despite price points that are significantly higher than any other retail AiOs.
Looking forward, vendors and retailers are expected to continue their focus on A4 business inkjet AiOs as an avenue of growth. Though HP has emerged as a pioneer in the segment, vendors such as Epson have been quick to follow its competitor’s strategy. With that, Epson is expected to launch business inkjet AiOs that feature the vendor’s PrecisionCore technology, a high-speed inkjet platform that utilizes chips based on the company’s Micro Piezo printheads and micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) manufacturing. Although Epson has not yet introduced a page wide array printhead, the vendor suggested that it plans to offer a technology that rivals HP’s Officejet Pro X series in the future.