Why it pays to be a communications expert, not just a print expert
The coming years could prove tough for some print service providers, what with a volatile economic climate, falling demand for print products and more expensive raw materials.
So don’t be surprised if we see some pretty big changes in the global graphics market. The companies that flourish will be those that evolve with the times and respond best to changing demand. Print service providers will need to step up and offer more than just print – they’ll have to become communications experts too.
The importance of digital communication – and in particular, mobile communication – can’t be overstated. The challenge for print service providers is to help customers integrate their digital and offline communication channels.
For print houses to achieve this, it’s crucial they can harness variable data, which lets them customize products for individual customers. In turn, this allows brands to target very specific market segments with personalised, highly relevant communications, which helps improve response rates.
Essentially, we’re going to see print service providers become marketing service providers, differentiating their business and generating greater revenue by delivering higher-value products and services.
Of course, this means a shift in the way print service providers perceive their role. But being open to new ideas and moving with the times is something the industry has done time and again. Take Web to Print – a great example of the industry opening up and putting the customer at the heart of the production process. Web to Print saves customers time and money, and is making print service providers more competitive as a result.
What’s your take? Do print houses already see themselves as a key part of the marketing chain, or are some struggling to make the transition? And if so, what can be done to help them? Read more, leave a comment and let us know!
Expect packaging to get cosy with digital this drupa
Digital is taking an increasingly stronger hold in all print markets, and packaging is no exception. Heidelberg predicts digitally printed packaging will grow at double-digit rates, while HP anticipates that its digitally printed packaging division can take the same 10 per cent share of the market that it has in label printing.
So what makes digital so attractive? The technology has advanced rapidly, and there are no longer the same concerns about quality. And print service providers are finding the technology very useful for helping brands to extend their packaging and marketing activities. Things like on-pack promotions, personalized printing, and being able to slash waste by up to 20% are just some of the benefits fueling digital’s popularity.
Digital won’t have it all its own way on the packaging front, however. Litho press manufacturers have recognized the fast-turnaround times afforded by digital, and have responded by increasing the automation of their systems. This is helping packaging printers get through more work, and making their shorter runs more cost effective.
Indeed, packaging printers are now much more comfortable with printing a run of 100 sheets or several pallets of board. And, of course, litho offers advantages over digital in terms of inline varnishing and foiling.
Narrow web presses, once deemed suitable primarily for labels, are also getting in on the action, printing boards for lightweight and small-format cartons. And they’re being combined with inkjet technology for dating, coding and adding promotional messages.
So, while digital undoubtedly has the momentum, a complete end-to-end solution remains a challenge, especially at the finishing stage. And it’s way too early to write-off old-style presses, which are still evolving to deliver shorter production batches and meet customer demand.
Now over to you – do you think digital will reign supreme at drupa 2012? Or can the old-timer presses still show the new technologies a thing or two? Leave a comment and have your say.
Check the drupa website for extended information on this topic.
The drupa that won’t be labelled: there’s no pinning a theme to this year’s show
In previous years, drupa has been defined by an overriding theme. We had ‘inkjet drupa’ in 2008, ‘JDF drupa’ in 2004, and back in 2000 there was the ‘press and workflow drupa’. This year’s show is proving much harder to pin down, not least because the perception of print is changing.
Customers are looking to print houses to add value to print products and help brands differentiate themselves from their competitors. Essentially, they want print houses to be a key part of the marketing value chain.
So, which technologies will steal the limelight? We can expect a far more even spread than previous years.
Inevitably, digital – and inkjet in particular – will be in the spotlight. But let’s not forget how much printing is still produced using analogue processes, and isn’t ready to go digital.
Much of the focus regarding offset press development has been on improving automation to shorten makeready and changeover times, allowing print houses to get more work out the door.
Similarly, improvements to drying processes are eliminating dead time and boosting productivity.
Web-offset will also see developments to help reduce waste and labour, and ultimately lower the cost per volume of pages. And we can expect to see rapid developments in continuous-feed inkjet.
Ultimately, drupa is defined by what it means to you, the visitor. Whatever area you specialise in, there’ll be no shortage of experts on hand to help your business take a big stride forward.
Can’t wait for drupa? Whet your appetite with this preview on the drupa website.