Vertical Industry Views from a Socially Distanced Perch

An Excerpt from Keypoint Intelligence’s Vertical Vision Multi-Client Study



Riley McNulty


The US economy continues to undergo significant revolutions because of the ongoing pandemic. Although the stock market has experienced a pullback over the past two weeks, as investors large and small trim positions in highflying tech stocks, its recovery can only be described as “V-shaped”. Fueling this recovery are tech growth stocks (such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Facebook, and Amazon) because they thrive in a COVID-19 world. In contrast, the main street economy continues to struggle through a significant recession and an unemployment rate of 8.4%.


Each vertical industry has been impacted in different ways by the pandemic, social distancing, and changing customer behaviors.  Now more than ever, printing and communication companies need a playbook for how they will sell into each vertical industry. To address this need, Keypoint Intelligence recently completed the Vertical Vision Study to examine how marketing, advertising, and print spend fared over the first half of 2020, as well as the expectations going into 2021. The study also looked at applications such as magazines, catalogs, books, and transactional/regulatory mail.


The study uncovered that 45% of business respondents do not expect their industry to recover until the first half of 2021, and another 18% do not expect a recovery until the second half of next year or beyond. This underscores the reality that tough economic conditions will be with us for some time to come. The pandemic’s impact on total marketing and advertising spend, inclusive of digital and traditional channels, declined 4.6% in the first half of 2020, and is expected to decline 4.2% for the full year. However, this varies significantly by individual vertical industry. Total spend by vertical varies greatly, as well.


Pandemic Overall Impact Marketing & Ad Spending


Some industries have proven to be more resilient while others will be clear laggards in terms of economic recovery. An example of this is the finance & banking sector. In 2008, this vertical bore significant responsibility for what was to become known as the Great Recession. Since then, it has gone through regular annual stress tests and went into this downturn with sound balance sheets. As a result, even in a world where the risk-free rate of return (i.e., US treasuries) is near zero, this interest rate sensitive vertical has proven to be more resilient—making it an attractive target for companies that want their share of marketing spend.


As printing companies do their long-range planning for 2020, it will be essential to identify where opportunity lies within each vertical industry. This includes looking for less obvious opportunities in select verticals around magazines, catalogs and books. Approaching 2021 with a one-size fits all playbook will be risky.


The Vertical Vision Study is one tool that to help design sales plans that capitalize on a clear line of sight into the individual needs, and opportunities, of each vertical industry. For more information about the Vertical Vision Study, please send us an email at for more info.