An interview with Gary Wilson, one of Expense Reduction Analyst’s print specialists about hot topics in the print industry. Gary says of his passion for print – “aside from the fact that I have lived and breathed print for over 20 years, which has taught me a few things, I have ink in my blood. Not physical ink but what print is all about – Communication!
Why do you think Print is a Hot Topic right now?
One of my strong beliefs is that to truly match a client’s needs to the best printer you must personally know them and have physically seen their operations. I attended Print Industry seminars, briefings, subscribe to print industry publications and continually interact with printers in order to stay up to date with the most recent technology and trends in the print industry.”
Many companies are recognising that print is still a highly effective communication channel. Companies such as Google, LinkedIn, Amazon and Apple are all using print as part of their marketing strategies.
It is even being said that print is having a renaissance. It is certainly true that a large number of companies are switching some of their marketing budgets from digital to print. Each day 20 million Australians receive printed direct mail marketing material in their letterbox.
Direct mail is also seeing a resurgence, with companies focusing on smaller runs with more personalisation. Driving this trend is an opening rate of 92% and a customer preference of 73% for direct mail marketing.
Direct mail’s performance has proven to be enhanced when it is part of an integrated multi-channel programme. Printers continue to take advantage of changes in technology to drive their businesses in order to provide quality products at cost-effective prices.
What do you think the most important issues are facing print buyers?
The two hottest things are technological change and consolidation, and to keep up with who can do what best.
A game changer is well on the way for the industry. New age inkjet machines have begun to arrive in Australia. They will create a new production and cost platform that marketers will be attracted to. This is not the inkjet printer that we remember from the past which was low cost and low quality.
Operating at half the cost for web press work such as books, direct mail and transactional documents, the potential is there for this new technology to also meet the demand for medium length high-quality print.
As their speeds increase, the potential is also there for inkjet machines to replace offset, the ‘holy grail’ of the longstanding highest print quality. Regarding the latter, web offset now only has 2 print companies who do that in Australia, compared to 2016 when there were 5.
The other thing is for print buyers to know who is who in the zoo and what market rates exist.
Print company acquisitions and mergers will continue resulting in fewer, but larger printers. The goal is to gain greater efficiencies and higher technical resources. For print buyers, there will be a wider range of options, increased personalisation, a broader range of high-quality options and strong market pressure to provide highly competitive pricing.
The pressure to respond to rapidly changing communication trends requires significant innovation, flexibility, highly skilled staff, latest technology and money. Many small to medium-sized printers find meeting these challenges a ‘bridge too far’.