Print Leaders Forum: Print in Evolution

An excerpt from AP March 2020 Print Leaders Forum – by MSP Photography CEO Craig Honey 

In 2020, there will be a greater focus on eco-friendly raw materials and products, as the community becomes more educated and aware of the impacts of existing technologies.

Take coffee pods as an example and the eco-friendly biodegradable alternatives offered by the likes of Tripod Coffee and EcoCaffe.

Then, there is augmented reality (AR) and the question of if it’s future or fad? I say future, but in my opinion it’s currently a solution looking for a problem. Ikea and Polyflor are leaders in this space in the retail sector, but how long do you think it will be before you can see your hero car, a Mustang or Camaro in your driveway on your phone, or a Michael Hill engagement ring on your finger while browsing a physical or online catalogue?

Companies like Worldwide Printing now offer AR as a service to small, medium, and large businesses and as the technology matures and evolves and becomes quicker, easier, and cheaper, the more it will be integrated into businesses marketing portfolios.

The day that AR works with artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) to 3D print products and structures that we could only dream of, will be the day that AR evolves into a leading manufacturing tool. It might not be in 2020, but it is not a matter of if but when.

3D printing will to continue to grow in the manufacturing space as demonstrated by Aurora Labs.

Areas of growth

It’s been said before but find your niche! And once you have, diversify.

This sounds contradictory, but it isn’t. Diversify inside your niche to minimise the risk of being too reliant on one revenue stream, and to increase your stickiness with your customers by becoming a broader solution for them.

Where printers should be focusing their efforts:

  • By valuing themselves, their products and their services. Price wars are a race to the bottom
  • Don’t neglect or underestimate the power of effective marketing
  • Look after your staff
  • The old cliché of failing to plan is planning to fail
  • Keeping your knowledge up to date and in turn protect yourself from emerging technologies
  • Industry stewardship

There will also be more of a focus on delivering products with integrated offerings i.e. eco-friendly printed products, print with AR, and tools that aid personalisation.

Our business will be continuing to work on understanding what our customers’ wants and needs are, and the methods that we can deliver on these in a way that keeps us sticky.

More consolidation like Spicers and Direct Paper is expected, as well as investments along the same lines as what IVE Group has done with the Salmat catalogue distribution business, and Xerox and HP looking at ways that they can grow together. Mergers, acquisitions, and simply leveraging off established networks will continue in 2020.

Speaking of the IVE Group, there will be more focus on brand awareness. IVE Group recently announced that it is streamlining its brand by retiring all other brand names, including Blue Star and Kalido, and will now simply be known as IVE.

Clear brand messaging without cluttering and confusing will provide a more direct message to customers. Brand alignment of this magnitude won’t be common; however brand awareness and identity will continue to become a priority.

Marketing principals will stay the same, however the evolution of marketing channels will continue. Take the humble evolution of email campaigns becoming EDMs – that space will also start to change in 2020 with the continuous introduction of stricter data protection legislation and IT-related security software becoming smarter.

The print industry is not dead, it’s just evolving!

This article was written prior to the impact of COVID-19. The digital version of AP March 2020 is available here.

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