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There is an ‘I’ in Print

There is an ‘I’ in Print

The trends changing the print industry and the future of live engagements

As the drupa 2016 show came to a close on Friday (10 June), it is hard not to reflect on the pace with which the overall print industry has changed since the last drupa exhibition took place in 2012. Of course, change is inevitable in any industry. But what makes the print industry so fascinating is how a traditional static mass-producing technology has responded to the need of brands to become more adaptable and creative in order to meet rising customer expectations. As individuals we are constantly feeding brands with our data. Through various social media postings and general online activity, sophisticated data on our behaviours is being tracked through ‘smart’ engagements. It is therefore natural that today we come to expect highly personalised experiences everywhere and on everything. That is where digital print comes in or what is now known as ‘i-Printing’.

The ‘i’ in print can stand for the ‘internet’, which enables us to remotely print via the web. The ‘i” can also stand for the ‘individualised’ offering that technology has allowed both large and small businesses to mass-customise. Or, as in the case of this blog, the “i” can stand for the ‘me’ as a person or individual.

We are much more likely to engage with something if there is a personal dimension to it – as this automatically creates an emotional connection for us. It makes us feel ‘special’. For example, it is much harder to throw away those bespoke birthday cards with your photo on the cover than the generic mass-produced cards. For a special flight anniversary, TAM airlines personalised on-board magazines for each of its passengers pulling in data from Facebook and Instagram. A generic magazine transformed into memorabilia (average reading time went up by 1200%). This campaign won TAM airlines a bronze at the Cannes Lions in 2015.

The stats can be phenomenal when a ‘personal’ approach is taken. Based on research conducted by Ricoh and DMA, 98% of marketers said that personalisation would enhance the effectiveness of direct mail. But just adding a name and an address does not make it personal. You need to map the likes and dislikes of the individual to make the product more appealing. The fastest growing area for this is in packaging. On average we only take about 3-7 seconds to choose a drink from the shelf. Labelling to connect at a personal level - like the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign or Heinz’s Get Well Soon Soup - is the way forward. And at drupa there were a number of key players that showcased how their technology allowed businesses to print on everything, in smaller batches – the result, personalised labelling in very short lead times. From HP’s mosaic print solution which allows for numerous combinations to create endless choices for unique packaging and print design to EFI’s application gallery that showcased how various substrates could be used on a range of items to print high quality imaging.

drupa 2016 had six themes that demonstrated the growing application of print technology enabling today’s business to ‘Touch the Future’ – this year’s show theme. Each of these themes - print, functional print, packaging, multichannel, green printing and 3D printing - demonstrated in one way or another the capability to personalise at various levels of the production process. Be it the 3D mould of yourself generated onsite while you waited or a nod to personal commitment to the environment with green printing options.

As reflected at drupa 2016, it’s clear we’re very much in an era of personalisation where personalised experience is a necessity, not a nice to have – for experience designers a focus on the “I” not the we is now a fundamental for success. I look forward to seeing what drupa 2020 will bring for me, myself and ‘I’.

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Niru desai

Niru Desai

VP, Strategy International

Whether at the country, industry, or audience segment level, she specializes in delivering holistic event portfolio plans and creates strategies that go above and beyond clients’ needs. The brain force behind many successful digital and social media campaigns, Niru keeps a finger to the pulse of...

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