By Joey Heiob
Like so many businesses, vehicle graphics printers and installers held their breath when the pandemic swept the globe a year ago. Would the fear, the quarantines and the lockdowns, the job losses, and the economic uncertainty combine to decimate the market? The answer, fortunately, is a resounding “no.” In fact, the sector proved resilient in the face of all these negative factors.
When the accounting for 2020 is complete, most vehicle graphics businesses will likely have notched a solid year, perhaps even set a record, and the overall industry will have stayed on the double-digit growth trajectory it has tracked over the last decade.
Defining the sector
Vehicle graphics is defined as the practice of applying a specially designed vinyl-wrapping film directly to the painted surface of a vehicle. The purpose is to change the colour or appearance of the vehicle for personal preferences or to display a commercial message. Vehicle graphics are an alternative to painting the body of a vehicle. Vinyl wraps have now largely displaced aftermarket vehicle repainting due to lower costs, faster turnaround, and the wide variety of options.
Vinyl wraps can last up to five years; and, they can be removed to return the vehicle to its original appearance. Graphics films are available as cast or calendered gloss white vinyl, which are digitally printed ‘canvases’ for custom designs and commercial branding. Vehicle colour change wrapping films come in a large variety of colours and textures, as well as different finishes, such as gloss, matte, metallic, and satin, that make it possible to achieve an endless variety of custom effects and graphic finishes.
Segmenting the market
The vehicle graphics market is most clearly divided into commercial and personal vehicle segments. In addition to automobiles, trucks and SUVs, the personal vehicle market also encompasses marine, RV, ATV, and off-road vehicles, while the commercial side includes food trucks, safety and emergency, and transit vehicles.
Commercial fleet graphics are an effective form of advertising and branding for businesses ranging from local plumbers or floral shops to the biggest brands and largest over-the-road truck fleets in the country. According to a study by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), a vehicle wrap on a typical trailer makes 10 million impressions every year. Moreover, according another ATA study conducted by Robinson Yesawich & Pepperdine Inc., 97 per cent of individuals surveyed noticed the advertising on fleet vehicles and 98 per cent felt the ad portrayed a positive image of the advertiser. Further, 29 per cent of those surveyed said they would base a buying decision on those impressions.