Home printer trends in the US [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, February 25, 2021

Home printer penetration trend

Home printers remain a part of home computing if less core than five years ago. Only two years ago, in 2018, there was a noticeable drop in overall home printer usage levels, as the penetration rate fell to two-thirds of online adults from nearly three in four only two years earlier. Since that time, the rate has stabilized and even slightly increased. As of TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, 70% of online American adults regularly use a home printer.

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Scanners, scanning, and disappearing paper [TUPdate]

Inertia simultaneously saves and disrupts technological transformation. Scanners and printers with integrated scanners have been at the heart of the paper to digital change. So much that was paper is now electronic. The “paperless office” has been a hyped cliché for decades, and yet is truer with each passing year. Although electronic signatures have been legal for over 20 years in most countries, and digital copies are increasingly acceptable in many cases, the migration from paper to electronic lumbers along gradually. Consumers and businesses alike continue to need to convert hardcopy documents and images into electronic form.

Standalone Scanners Subsiding

Scanning is still alive, although standalone scanners are only being used by a relative few.

https://i1.wp.com/technologyuser.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/LXDGb-standalone-scanner-use-has-subsided-around-the-world.png?ssl=1

The regular use of a standalone scanner has sagged across a range of countries, as we found in research results from the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile survey. Our TUP 2019 survey of 11,625 respondents in the US, Germany, and China show that only a small percent of online adults use a standalone scanner.

There are a range of standalone scanners available, as distinct from the scanners included in MFP (Multi-Function Printers).  Standalone scanners with ADFs (automatic document feeders) are well-suited to converting large batches of documents into a digital form, either for archiving or for wider use in a new electronic form. Flatbed scanners are useful for incidental scanning. Specialized scanners, such as business card scanners, are also useful for specific tasks. All these types of standalone scanners are included within these numbers, reflecting their niche use.

Standalone neither young nor old

Younger generations, many referred to as digital natives, have not embraced standalone scanners. Neither are older adults the major users of paper scanners. The share of age 18-24 and 25-34 are effectively the same as among age 55-64 and 65 and older.

What the young do

Younger Americans – especially age 25-34 – have a unique scanning profile. As compared to any other age group, they are above average in using standalone scanners to scan personal documents, personal photographs, work documents, and work photographs. Americans age 55+ stand out in being well above average in scanning personal documents. These older are adults are also well below average in scanning personal photographs and work documents or photographs.

Difference of One or Many among Young and Old

Older Americans that use standalone scanners use flatbed one-document-at-a-time scanners at a much higher rate than younger Americans. While 78% of American scanner users age 65+ use a flatbed scanner, only 26% of adults age 18-24 do so. Instead, a higher share of younger adults use a multi-document scanner, with 61% of standalone scanners age 18-24 using one and 54% of age 25-34. Neither younger nor older Americans are primarily using a portable/business card scanner. Among these least-used devices, there’s a slightly younger skew.

More ways than one

Many online adults use computer printers for scanning, choosing either those with single-sheet platens or automatic document feeders (ADF).

Use of printers for scanning is more widespread than use of standalone scanners. Roughly ten times as many adults regularly use their primary printer for scanning as use a standalone printer. The percent of online adults in the US is 36%, 35% in China, and 46% in Germany. These rates are down somewhat from 2015 through 2019 in the many countries we surveyed.

Printer scanning for elders

When using a computer printer to scan, a much higher share of scanning is among older than younger Americans. Half (50%) of online Americans age 65 and higher use their primary printer to scan photos or documents. Among online Americans age 54 and younger, only 35% or fewer regularly use a printer to scan.

One at a time

Over three-fourths (78%) of Americans who scan using a printer only scan one document at a time. Almost half of that number, 37%, only scan multiple items using an automated document feeder. Another half of that number, 16%, regularly do both.

Looking ahead

The silent substitute competition for scanners is near at hand – smartphones. Although arguably smartphones don’t handle the highest demands for scanning, they’re more than adequate for many purposes. Archiving large batches of documents or photographs will continue to be a job for high-end standalone scanners. To take a quick scan of a document, though, to share with others, is well within the capability of nearly every smartphone, and that’s even before the use of specialized scanning or deskewing apps. Add smartphone apps like Microsoft Lens, CamScanner, or the many others that include OCR (optical character recognition) and most needs are covered well enough.

Yet another substitute for scanning is also silent – paperless statements. The majority of banks, brokerages, creditors, utilities, and other suppliers continue to encourage their customers to move from paper to electronic statements. Also, tax and other governmental authorities are increasingly digital, both sending and receiving documents electronically. This reduces the demand for customers to scan paper documents that they can simply download and send to whoever needs a copy.

These trends don’t mean that scanning will completely go away. In fact, most of the decline has already happened for scanner use and scanning with printers. These devices and activities have dropped to the realm of being a niche and are likely to remain so.

About TUPdates

TUPdates feature analysis of current or essential technology topics. The research results showcase the TUP/Technology User Profile study, MetaFacts’ survey of a representative sample of online adults profiling the full market’s use of technology products and services. The current wave of TUP is TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, which is TUP’s 38th annual. TUPdates may also include results from previous waves of TUP.

Current subscribers may use the comprehensive TUP datasets to obtain even more results or tailor these results to fit their chosen segments, services, or products. As subscribers choose, they may use the TUP inquiry service, online interactive tools, or analysis previously published by MetaFacts.

On request, interested research professionals can receive complimentary updates through our periodic newsletter. These include MetaFAQs – brief answers to frequently asked questions about technology users – or TUPdates – analysis of current and essential technology industry topics. To subscribe, contact MetaFacts.

Usage guidelines: This document may be freely shared within and outside your organization in its entirety and unaltered. To share or quote excerpts, please contact MetaFacts.

Home printing trends – US 2019 [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, November 7, 2019

Overview

Printing at home has changed in recent years. Printer manufacturers continue to innovate in order to compete and encourage broad active printer use.

This TUPdate looks at the major trends in home printing in the US, and examines how users have changed in both what they print and their volume of printing. Also, it examines printing trends with respect to the broadened use of mobile devices. Further, it looks into whether younger adults print more or less than older ones, and whether presence of children makes a difference.

The source for this analysis is MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile, with results from waves 2015 through 2019, all based on surveys of from 7,326 to 8,060 online adults in the US.

Home printer penetration

The majority of online adults in the US use a home printer, although market penetration has dropped over the last two years.

In 2019, 68% of online adults in the US actively use a home printer. This is effectively the same level as in 2018 – 67%. However, this share had been a stable 73% between 2015 to 2017.

The decline has been driven by substitutes, primarily increased use mobile devices

Home printer page volume has declined

While the penetration of home printers has dropped slowly then stabilized, the number of pages being printed has dropped faster.

The average number of pages printed per month has dropped from 38.6 per month in 2015 to 31.8 in 2019, a reduction of nearly 20%.

Mobile substitutes for printing

One of the biggest contributors to the decline in printing – the mass move to mobile platforms. Americans are increasingly using their smartphones to find their way instead of printing maps or directions. That change is happening surely yet slowly.

It may surprise many digital natives that as many as 43.7 million Americans still occasionally print maps/directions.

Meanwhile, photo printing, once the darling of home printing, has also declined substantially. In 2019, 34.2 million adults print photos with their home printers, as steep decline since 2016 levels of 48.1 million Americans. Sharing photos in person on their mobile device or over social networks has risen in popularity.

Home printing has also subsided for customarily work-related documents such as reports and presentations. This is due in part to employers increasingly moving their communications to electronic formats.

One surprise – printing photos from tablets has decreased, even while tablet use has steadily increased. Also, mobile users are becoming more comfortable with printing directly from their smartphone or tablet. The decline is due in large part to the ongoing decline in printing photos at all, regardless of device.

Shifts in major home printer activities

The top home printer activity is coupons, currently an activity of 65.6 million US adults. This is slightly lower than several years ago, in 2016, where this activity was occasionally done by 68.8 million Americans.

Meanwhile printing tickets has quickly risen from being done by 38.6 million adults in 2016 to 52.4 in 52.4 in 2019.

Home printing and presence of children

One group that historically prints more than average are adults with children in the household. Whether it’s printing homework, photos, or greeting cards, these households are simply busier with their technology.

Households with children continue to print more than those without, although this rate has dropped recently. Between 2017 and 2019, the average number of pages printed by adults with children has dropped from more than 50 pages per month to just over 40.

Are younger digital natives responsible for less printing?

No. The youngest adults (18-24) are printing as much as ever, and currently more than most older adults.

The largest drop in print volume is among adults age 25 to 44.

How are printer manufacturers innovating?

Convenience is key. Ink subscription services make it easier for home printer users to keep their printers ready. Wireless connections facilitate printing from PCs as well as smartphones and tablets. Touch screens and preview screens give users more control. Voice assistants allow for hands-off capabilities.

Expanded use: Multi-function printers include scanning capabilities

Ink subscription plans

Overall, 19% of online adults in the US subscribe to an ink replacement plan for their home printer.

Not all home printers are used equally

Wireless connections dominate active use. Wi-Fi connections allow printing from PCs throughout a home as well as those nearby the printer.

Printing from a smartphone are tablet are used, although at a much lower rate than penetration of those devices. Bluetooth printing is hardly used.

Scanning is widespread.

Remote printing is very low.

Voice assistant use is almost nonexistent.

Active features by brand

Epson stands out for having the most unique set of features actively used, each being used more often than by the users of other home printer brands.

Home printer volume by brand

What’s ahead for home printers?

Home printers will continue to have a place in US homes for many years, even as their activity levels may shrink. The top current printing activities, coupons and tickets, will be replaced slowly over time as consumers become more comfortable with having secure documents on their smartphones or tablets.

Personal records and incidental web pages will likely linger, as consumers continue to value having hard copy archival copies for safekeeping. Even though it might be argued that electronic cloud storage is more secure, the majority of users are only slowly understanding that.

Home printers will be retained and renewed, if only for the convenience of having one around just in case it is needed.

About TUPdates

TUPdates feature analysis of current or essential technology topics. The research results showcase the TUP/Technology User Profile study, MetaFacts’ survey of a representative sample of online adults profiling the full market’s use of technology products and services. The current wave of TUP is TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, which is TUP’s 38th annual. TUPdates may also include results from previous waves of TUP.

Current subscribers may use the comprehensive TUP datasets to obtain even more results or tailor these results to fit their chosen segments, services, or products. As subscribers choose, they may use the TUP inquiry service, online interactive tools, or analysis previously published by MetaFacts.

On request, interested research professionals can receive complimentary updates through our periodic newsletter. These include MetaFAQs – brief answers to frequently asked questions about technology users – or TUPdates – analysis of current and essential technology industry topics. To subscribe, contact MetaFacts.

Usage guidelines: This document may be freely shared within and outside your organization in its entirety and unaltered. To share or quote excerpts, please contact MetaFacts.

Home printers – refilled or original? [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 19, 2018


When consumers buy a home printer, they’re also buying ink for as long as they use their printer. HP has the lowest rate of US consumers using refilled ink. Of the major brands, HP has the lowest share – 16%, while Brother and Dell have the highest share, 37%. Over the last two years, this refill share has only slightly wavered.

This is based on the most recent wave of TUP/Technology User Profile, the 2017 edition.
The majority of HP’s home printer customers are using HP’s ink, and only 7% are using a replacement brand such as Office Depot or Staples.

Continue reading “Home printers – refilled or original? [TUPdate]”
Usage guidelines: This document may be freely shared within and outside your organization in its entirety and unaltered. To share or quote excerpts, please contact MetaFacts.