The Pandemic’s Impact on Print

Inkjet to power the decline of commercial offset print

The drupa cube is part of drupa 2021 now scheduled to be held from 20 to 28 April 2021

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change in many industries, including print. As printers struggle to make sense of what the future holds, industry analyst Marco Boer shares insight into what he believes a post-pandemic print marketplace will look like. In an interview with WhatTheyThink, Boer highlighted some key developments he sees waiting ahead for the print industry.

Relevancy is key

For many years, the print industry discussed the importance of creating relevant, personalized communications. The pandemic – and its attendant economic crisis – has accelerated that need. Today, relevancy is not just a nice thing to have; it’s a requirement in printed communications.

One reason for this shift is the cost of paper. Boer says that the pandemic has increased the number of paper mills closing – either temporarily or permanently. “This will make the delta between offset-printed pages and inkjet-printed pages that much smaller. In this environment it no longer makes sense to mail 100,000 pieces at 1% and 2% response rate. Whatever gets mailed must be more relevant,” says Boer. We had earlier done a story on the closure of Stora Enso paper mill by Naresh Khanna.

Look at direct mail, for example. Boer reports that there were 120 billion inkjet-printed pages in 2019. That number is projected to grow to 201 billion – a CAGR of 11%. So, while direct mail printing overall is declining, the portion printed on inkjet is rapidly rising.

The decline of offset

Boer expects that as we recover from the pandemic, print will continue to be healthy. But, he notes, the pandemic will hasten the demise of offset printing. “As we come out of the pandemic, we may need to be patient for a little while, but print will continue to be strong,” says Boer. “However, we predict that offset will disappear two years faster than we originally thought. The pandemic has accelerated that decline.”

Labor is another factor driving printers away from offset. Boer predicts that printers in the middle of the market (the US$ 20 million to US$ 75 million shops) will do very well after the pandemic. That’s because these printers have enough capital to reinvest into automation, thereby reducing the high labor costs associated with offset.

Boer suggests that for many mid-size printers, the transformation is already underway. Many printers are using the time of the pandemic to get rid of their offset presses and move their operations to digital printing.

A new look at colour

Boer says that as the use of offset diminishes, so too will reliance on specific Pantone colours. He says that while colour consistency will still be important, print buyers won’t care if it matches the exact Pantone number. These buyers care about creating relevant, targeted communications that meet the goal of what the piece was intended to do.

If the printer doesn’t hit the colour on the first round, they’ll get it on the second round. Clients are increasingly accepting of this because they aren’t losing tons of money on wasted inventory,” says Boer.

The value of inkjet in a post-pandemic world

At Memjet, we are committed to working with OEM partners to deliver printing solutions that provide the speed, simplicity, profitability, and beautiful precision printers need to succeed in a post-pandemic world. By developing modular printing technology, we give our OEM partners the resources they need to create printing solutions that come at an affordable cost of ownership. Moreover, because these inkjet-powered presses are easier to operate and maintain, the labor cost is much less than offset.

Inkjet printers and presses can easily create the types of targeted, relevant communications Boer says are needed in today’s communications. Whether it’s customized packaging, personalized direct mail, or targeted labels, inkjet can cost-effectively produce the short runs of output needed for printers to succeed.

And while these solutions may be affordable, they deliver a quality level that rivals that of offset printing. With 1600 x 1600 dpi, printers have the confidence of knowing output from their Powered by Memjet printer delivers a superior level of quality that rivals offset.

Explore, Powered by Memjet print solutions, at one of these upcoming events.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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