The print industry has been experiencing a significant resurgence of sorts throughout the past two years, with the declines in demand that had seemingly hinted at an eventual collapse slowing to a halt and growth appearing to be right over the horizon. From college students deciding to switch back to physical textbooks and reading lovers making similar choices to businesses beginning to recognize the merits of paper assets in marketing, sales and other pursuits, demand for these products is proving resilient to the digital revolution.
This does not necessarily mean that the industry is completely out of the woods yet, though, as major players therein have to modernize their approaches to ensure they are keeping up with current demands and expectations among their clientele. In many instances, balancing the use of modern technologies and, most notably, analytics solutions, will allow these firms to maintain their classic appeal while simultaneously obliging the requirements of today's consumers and corporate purchasers.
Now, it is important to remember that the predictions of many analysts a few years back that print products would be heading for extinction have proven to be wrong, and that demands among companies and consumers alike is balancing out quite nicely. Understanding what can be done to improve prospects and stimulate more steady growth in the market represents the first step toward recovery in this regard, and new report highlighted some of these factors.
What paper lovers want
Print industry aficionado Margie Dana and research John Zarwan recently conducted a study to identify some of the core trends in demand for print products and published the 33-page report that gave some helpful insights. The report was commissioned by the National Paper Trade Association, while officials from the group stated that the study is a "must-read for anyone in the paper supply chain."
According to the authors, print buyers appear to be in need of more timely and insightful guidance from their chosen providers, while it appeared as though the print industry at large might benefit from more joint efforts in this regard.
As a note, this information was defined as educational, with respondents wishing to learn more about how the decision-making process should flow and what types of trends should be on their radar. Luckily, Dana and Zarwan did find that the majority of respondents are getting access to this type of information from their chosen providers of print products and services, and much of it relates back to integrating strategies that straddle digital and physical environments.
One of the more common demands with respect to educational information was in fact guidance related to requirements for equipment, paper specifications for different types of digital-enabled print jobs and the like. Additionally, the respondents did make it clear that they would always prefer to be getting this information directly from players in the print industry rather than relying on a wider range of sources.
"Print buyers want more attention from the paper industry," Dana explained. "They miss relationships they had with spec reps and are ready to embrace targeted educational efforts about commercial printing paper. It's a challenge that, if met, will reap the paper industry major benefits. Since almost every print buyer specifies paper, there's an enormous opportunity to serve them and influence their paper choices."
Taking it to the bank
Businesses that deal in the paper supply chain should keep these types of reports close at heart when formulating strategies for the future, as it has become clear that the opportunity to begin leveraging these assets for more prolific financial performances are there for the taking. Understanding the demands and expectations of today's clientele can separate one print industry player – or user of paper products – apart from the competition in a relatively short period of time.
The most important pursuit in this regard will likely be the continued integration of digital and paper publication strategies, with print players taking a lead in the education of modern businesses who desire to use both of these assets for their specific corporate objectives. With the right level of educational opportunities to be had from the print industry, demand will likely continue to rebound in the coming years.