What’s Next – HPs Printing Industry Trend Report

Printing giant HP and the industry magazine PrintWeek published downloadable 19-page report that outlines how important social trends affect the printing industry. On the basis of these seven game changers, HP and PrintWeek show which solutions already exist in the world of print to face them.

Print giant HP and PrintWeek have partnered up to generate a series of reports, video case studies and technology insights to highlight and explain the upcoming growth opportunities in the printing industry. One of the first papers from this series is an exclusive downloadable 19-page report that outlines seven key societal trends shaping the future of print.

Digital Printing Can Answer New Consumer Demands

As the digital age, especially with the development and progress of the internet and social media, has caused major changes in consumer behavior and expectations, brands have to rethink their usual strategies. The business world lives by the notion “consumer is boss” in its purest way which forces brands to look even closer at “likes” and “dislikes” of consumers. They want to be connected with the brand environment and the community behind it. Brands have to provide their target audience with the things the consumers desire and keep their brand promises. One essential tool to reach this target is to adopt and develop online strategies.
With digital printing it has become easier than ever to cater to the needs of the consumers and create graphic designs that can be effortlessly flexed and interpreted to create multiple versions of a product. Thanks to short runs ability and agility, brands can adapt their product to a specific target groups and market trends. Even brands that would not have been able to do this in the past can now be more dynamic and answer new consumer demands.

“Traditional Supply Chain Model is Changing“

Due to the needs of the industry to be leaner and to reduce costs and carbon emissions of industrial production, the traditional supply chain model is changing. There is already cooperation between converters and retailers in the paper and board industry that aim to modernize existing structures. With the growing importance of online shoppers for traditional retailers, the consumer packaging supply chain is changing, too. Aspects such as fulfilment issues, product selection efficiency, delivery distances and timing will become more important and refashion the role of the classic warehouse.
The changing supply chain model causes a need for new sustainable models that can be achieved with the help of digital printing. With a tight schedule to satisfy consumer’s needs and wishes, the industry needs an equally efficient solution. Just-in-time production offers solutions from print production to distribution of the final product and enables virtual warehousing which makes it possible for brands to print whatever they need, whenever they need it. This new way to approach production is not only convenient for brands but also solves the problems of surpluses and unnecessary shipping cost. Therefore, the new supply chain model is even eco-friendly thanks to fewer carbon emissions and waste.

Digital Prints Go from Design to Consumer in Minimal Time

As modern life is getting faster and faster, not least because of the possibilities of the internet, the consumer’s expectation has changed, too. One result of this development is that brands need to get their products to the market even faster. 25.7% faster cycle times are recognized as the primary advantage of digital printing while still achieving 13.8% more variable data applications. Having the fast turnaround time of today’s market wouldn’t be possible without digital printing which renders a short delivery time of only days instead of weeks possible.

“Creating Unique Prints for a Memorable Customer Experience Has Never Been Easier”

Conditioned by social media networks, consumers are in the “customer is king” role more than ever. Thanks to digital devices and the resulting all-time availability consumers have become both creators and critics.  This “power” leads to new customer demands like personalized services and, of course, products. New studies show that 50 percent of consumers are interested in purchasing customized products and are even willing to pay more for such an individualization. Just remember the personalized coke bottles or the ELLE cover campaign. Campaigns like that drive consumer engagement and indentification with the brand by forging a personal connection between the brand and the consumer.

Consumers Demand Premiumization

In the history of manufacturing, nothing affected the homogenization of products more than the industrialization and the effects are still there. The time 2000s can be seen as some kind of rediscovery era. The demands for maximum efficiency, higher quantity and lower prices lead to limited choice. Nowadays, consumers desire a large range of premium products like in the old times, where craftsmen personalized every element of design and manufacturing. A good example is the rebirth of gin and other crafted drinks in the last years, which led to many new small brands with modern and artistic labels using the newest printing technologies. You can see the same trend in the food industry, as consumers all over the world pick up the “less but better” trend. This development also reflects in prices, e.g., the average price for alcoholic beverages like craft beer has gone up 52 percent between 2006 and 2016. Another market that embraces premiumization is pet food. Premiumization creates not only a chance to change the appearance of the product’s packaging but also to be more flexible and functional and can greatly improve the product itself.
Saxonpackaging writes „ When thinking about premiumisation, brands need to start with good quality packaging material, they can then achieve a standout appearance by using a disruptive shape, eye catching graphics, high quality print (such as litho), print finishes and film lamination.” It is important to establish an emotional connection between the consumer and the product which can be achieved by the product itself but is also important for the packaging to draw especially new consumers to the product. Brands need to invest in the appearance and even feel of their products presentation: Packaging needs to be “more than just a container for a product” (Packaging Impressions) but an unique feature and selling point. Premiumization should be seen as a growth opportunity.

“Brands Are Under Attack”

The estimated revenue losses for brands from counterfeits increased from 2017 to 2020 by 50 percent. In numbers, that is 600 billion dollars in just three years. Consequently, there is a big need for monetary and technical investment in anti-counterfeiting. In keeping with the motto “hard to copy, easy to print” there will be a high demand for smart, flexible and specialized security technologies that offer high protection without compromising the production, like the DotCode, an innovative barcode system which isn’t just faster to print but also saver than common barcodes and revolutionized track-and-trace technology. Another good example is the use of holographic colour prints.
There are already many technologies and ideas in the making when it comes to anti-counterfeit technologies and there is an industry that might profit the most from those innovations: The pharma industry. 1 in 3 pharma companies are not ready for the serialization required under the FDA DSCS Act. Intelligent ink and printed electronics can revolutionize pharma packaging. Smart packaging will improve patient care and safety. Another upcoming technology for packaging are wire labels which can also be used by the pharma industry to increase brand identity and costumer loyalty but also to provide concerning medicinal ingredients and the interaction of different medications. Of course other industries are embracing wire labels as well, e.g., Jonny Walker’s campaign to create a label bottle that wirelessly speaks to consumers’ smartphones.

The Packaging Industry Goes Green

The demand for more sustainable manufacturing and technologies has a big influence on the print industry. Consumers, manufactures and retailers alike aim for sustainable solutions which are often formalized in the company’s social responsibility goals. As sustainability becomes part of a brand strategy and therefore of the awareness, it is more than a side aspect. “Reducing the impact of printing on the environment is good for business.” It’s a necessary means of attracting and holding customers. This is especially important for the packaging industry as packaging and particularly materials are directly visible for the consumer. And there are already many good ideas in the making, such as the Plantable Packaging, Virtual Packaging or innovative 3D printing technologies. The principle methods of the packaging industry are: Source reduction, format change, use of green materials, reusability and recyclability & recoverability.
HP points out that for HP Indigo sustainability is already a priority. It is important that even supplier keep their value chain in mind which is why HP “focused on a circular and low-carbon economy that spans our entire value chain and beyond”.

Do you know other major trends which are important for the future of the printing industry? Leave us a comment below. We are looking forward to your suggestions.