The strength of print in the age of digitization

Over 170 participants attend Heidelberg Digital Print Forum

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Attendees at the first Heidelberg Digital Print Forum learned about the importance of print in the age of digitization.

The premiere of the Heidelberg Digital Print Forum on 21 March 2019 in the Print Media Center Commercial in Wiesloch-Walldorf was very well received by the more than 170 attendees from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, invited by Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) to come together to discuss the digitization of the industry and the importance of print. In the run-up to the event, Heidelberg had conducted a survey among the attendees, which showed that 76% were addressing the important trends of the coming five years. Just 59% believe that their marketing reaches their customers and 56% are convinced that they can implement innovations in their company very quickly. Starting from this basis, the wide range of presentations and market stands struck a chord with the visitors, who were happy with the varied suggestions and solutions and used the event to network.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the presentations, which encouraged me to proceed with my innovations. I – and I think all the other guests too – have caught the print bug,” said one of the attendees.

Print delivers growth when focus is on customer benefits

“Towards what customers want and away from product innovation in a silent laboratory,” said Jürgen Grimm, head of software at Heidelberg, describing growth opportunities with new business models. Ease of operation, efficiency and benefits are important considerations for the customer. That is why Heidelberg offers its customers software via subscription, and thus a scalable workflow. The customer chooses only those modules they actually need from an overall package. This is then all they pay for. Digitization shifts the focus to the individual, and print is a trendsetter here, said Andreas Weber, analyst, mediator and managing director of Value Communication GmbH, Frankfurt. His credo is “customization”, which means tailored, personal offerings that satisfy the individual needs of the customer. “The market for value creation with print is almost six times bigger than we think, and has been stable for years,” he said. “According to the German Printing and Media Industries Federation, the print market in Germany has an annual turnover of EUR 21 billion. However, this figure does not take into consideration all of the market segments. The total value created comes to around EUR 121 billion, including packaging printing, direct mail, industrial printing as well as turnover from publishing houses, the book trade and the paper industry.”

Daniel Szkutnik, managing partner at the agency trio-group communication & marketing gmbh, was also positive about print. “In the age of digitization, the name of the game is networking print and digital efficiently in order to display content and data in different media and for different target groups at no extra cost.”

The attendees got to see practical solutions and hold discussions with the experts at the various market stands hosted by Heidelberg’s partners, including Antalis, which showcased the use of functional paper. The Heidelberg Versafire EV and EP as well as the Smartfire demonstrated the variety of applications currently offered by innovative digital printing systems. In its eight years of cooperation with Ricoh, Heidelberg has sold 1,500 Versafire systems worldwide.

The specialist presentations in the afternoon, which were also booked out, provided information on a range of topics such as the digital printing quality mark and the strengths of ink jet and toner in digital printing.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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