The present and future of the print industry both look radically different than they did 20 years ago. Coinciding with the digital boom around the turn of the century was the subsequent cultural waning of interest in traditional print media. Consumers began wanting constantly new information at their fingertips, and the great expanse of digital devices has more than served that desire.
However, the print industry, as a whole, has found ways to reinvent itself consistently during this stretch of time. Now, more than ever, paper products are in high demand in accordance with the rampant consumerism that envelops the modern business climate worldwide.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the more important trends for members of the print industry to adhere to in 2015 and beyond.
1. Go multichannel or go extinct
Everyone uses the Internet, ME Printer asserted. This is a fact of the 21st century, and the sooner we can all accept and embrace this notion, the more likely it is that print can continue to not just exist, but thrive. The source reported that consumers value interaction with brands, which means that even paper-based products should have some sort of multimedia approach to create an active conversation.
For example, if you are using print for marketing – side note: this is something you should do, as statistics show that marketing campaigns are most effective when they use print and digital methods to complement each other – then your content should instill a sense of curiosity in consumers and can provoke them to seek further information. To best create an engaging initiative, include links to social media accounts or your website, or even slap a QR code on the page, which can be scanned by mobile devices and provide immediate access to your supplemental online content.
2. Hard copies may be in decline, but newspapers are doing just fine
Building upon the multichannel theme, Arab News noted that newspapers generated about $179 billion in circulation and advertising revenue in 2014. Clearly, there is stability within the industry, but the source said it is imperative to recognize where it stems from.
Publications that only offer a print option do not exist anymore – the audience prefers to get its news instantly and digitally. Successful newspapers have taken note of this and adapted accordingly. The source reported that The New York Times, perhaps the world's preeminent news source, has focused on a multimedia approach to remain profitable in the electronic age. And it's paid off – web traffic has grown 28 percent, and mobile readership has increased by 50 percent.
But this does not mean there is no room for print materials anymore. USA Today, among other publications, has begun to focus more on lengthy, quality feature pieces for its hard copies. This content can only be accessed through paywalls online, and consumers generally prefer to read long pieces in print, so this market has established itself to work in conjunction with its online counterpart. Arab News noted that USA Today has seen an increase in profit margins since making this organizational shift, proving that multichannel offerings are a necessity in today's media.
3. Commercial explosion creates a need for packaging
The volume of commerce in most countries around the world has grown in a huge way over the past two decades, ME Printer stated. Due to the ever-evolving nature of business, as products are invented, mass produced and distributed in quicker time allocations than ever before, the packaging industry has seen a boom to meet demand. The source suggested that packaging is becoming more intelligent and inherently more lucrative in today's market, given the all-time high necessity. Printers around the world are offering packaging as one of their products, and the source expected further investments to keep pouring in.
4. Mass customization
ME Printer noted that this is the age of mass customization. Most businesses see a need to measure their data and track it analytically in order to best enhance profitability, and one of the ways printers can jump on this trend is to offer management and customization services for them. Instead of distributing countless reams of paper on a consistent basis, printers may be well-equipped to handle specialty orders, and charge more for producing custom materials for other companies. This is a sustainable way to remain relevant to clients who may be coaxed to move their data to the cloud.
5. Environmentally friendly practices
The print industry has a bad – though undeserved – rep, according to ME Printer, of being wasteful and contributing to pollution. In reality, paper products are recycled at a higher rate than any other material, and deforestation has been largely alleviated by reforestation. Meanwhile, mega data centers are consuming massive quantities of energy to power the cloud.
But instead of engaging in a war of words with the tech world, the source suggested implementing green initiatives throughout the organization and measuring your outputs. Lowering your emissions can give you a nice public image boost.