27 May 2011 - Printing series 2: Is digital printing the way forward?

Tags:  Digital series

27 May 2011 - Printing series 2: Is digital printing the way forward?

“Everything that can go digital, will go digital and print is no exception”. A famous statement made by Benny Landa, the inventor of digital offset printing and founder of Indigo who are now owned by HP. Many consider Benny to be the father of modern day digital printing and when you consider that he formed Indigo back in 1977, it’s clear to see that he was quite the visionary.

Digital printing has enabled this medium to keep pace with other technologies and remain relevant as an effective means of communication. Many believed that the internet had signalled the end of print but here we are almost 15 years since the use of the internet became commonplace and print is still as relevant as ever and being used in significant volumes. In fact litho sheet fed is only seeing a 1% decrease in volumes between now and 2014 whilst digital volumes are increasing significantly over the same period (Pira). This is because digital printing enables marketers to connect with their audience, which is an ever more challenging task considering the amount of media noise that surrounds us.

Printers have played their part in keeping the medium relevant by adapting rapidly to new demands and continuously innovating their services to meet the challenges of the modern communication environment. Variable Data Printing, Cross Media Marketing, Web to Print solutions, QR codes and Augmented reality are all terms which have merged in the last decade and each of them offers an entirely new way of engaging with end users.

The fact is that brands are fighting to get their messages to consumers and print is one vital component in that communication mix, the real challenge, which digital printing resolves, is to make sure that the printed message is dynamic, quick to market and flexible and that it links seamlessly with the other communication media as each one plays a part in the to achieve the best result.

Increasingly it’s clear that the old argument about where the cut-off point lies between the economics of printing something digitally compared with litho, is becoming redundant. The fact is that digital printing enables brands to target messages to individuals based upon the specific data the brand has on that individual.

There can be no wasted effort with marketing and so if a brand goes to the expense of putting some beautifully printed material in front of an individual, then that material needs to be relevant. One such example of this is with the project Pureprint were recently involved in for Boden. Recognising the benefits of digital printing, Boden produced 100,000 fully personalised covers for the catalogues that were sent to a select group of their customer base. These covers contained basic name personalisation but in addition targeted specific promotions to individuals based on the data Boden had collected about their buying habits. The only question that’s relevant here is, what will the return on investment be for this activity, rather than whether one output device works out more economic than another.

Printing is a great asset in the modern marketing mix and it will continue to be so long into the future, Digital printing offers a whole new channel which has not yet fully matured and provides exciting opportunities for brands to engage with consumer therefore it will continue to grow for many years to come.

Lloyd Bromhead is Group Business Development Director for the Pureprint Group and has held senior positions in some of the countries leading printing groups.

Pureprint are leaders in sustainable print production providing an innovative approach to their customers communication requirements, integrating the tactile, sensory nature of print, with full cross-media communication techniques.

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