Focus on sustainable advertising at Media Expo 2023

Textile-based media in advertising

(L--R) Santosh Nair, CEO, Skytech Group; Avinash Misar, CEO, Texport Syndicate; T Vinoth Kumar, managing partner, Coatex; Arindam Dasgupta, vice-president, Hearth Textiles and Deepak Girotra, director, Sun Printable Fabric at the panel discussion at Media Expo 2023

The second day of Media Expo 2023 saw an enlightening session on sustainable advertising with a focus on textile-based media. Santosh Nair, CEO, Skytech Group, who moderated the discussion, shared a piece of alarming statistics. According to a study by ICRA (Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency) in 2018, 18,000 tons of PVC flex banners are consumed and dumped into landfills every month, he said.

To address the issue and discuss solutions, Nair had on stage Avinash Misar, CEO, Texport Syndicate; T Vinoth Kumar, managing partner, Coatex; Arindam Dasgupta, vice-president, Hearth Textiles and Deepak Girotra, director, Sun Printable Fabric, as panelists. All experts explored the future of advertising, going deep into the possibilities and the potential of environment-friendly textile-based solutions for brands instead of PVC.

PVC has been the go-to material for banners and signage due to its durability and cost-effectiveness. However, its environmental impact has raised concerns — pushing the industry to seek alternatives.

Sharing the challenges he faced when he first tried out the alternatives, Misar said, “When introduced in 2015, the market was not ready to accept textile-based flex. In the last couple of years, the penetration has increased but the rate is too slow.”

Misar said there should be standardization of the process, technologies, and materials used to ensure consistency and quality across the board. “When everybody operates on the same platform, it becomes easier for brands to make informed choices and for consumers to understand and appreciate the benefits of sustainable alternatives.”

Based on his experience of convincing people in the industry to move towards sustainable means instead of PVC, Kumar said, “The convincing part is difficult as people are very much comfortable with PVC because of low cost, affordability, and availability. In 2015, the Kerala government banned PVC, forcing advertisers and printers to look for textile-based alternatives.”

Kumar said Kerala printers shifted toward textile-based media after the PVC ban. “Now they are not ready for PVC prints.”

Dasgupta said returning to a cleaner planet may become impossible if we don’t act now. “When the initiative started, the industry didn’t know much about the new printing systems and materials. But now, the industry is well aware of the process due to various regulations introduced by the government.”

He emphasized the need for all stakeholders to share the responsibility of the journey towards sustainability — be it brands, the governments, printers, or the consumers.

Girotra said fabric banners can be printed on the same machine that prints PVC flex. He believes the quality of fabric print is far superior to PVC. “The technicalities of printing on fabric are different but not difficult. It is just a matter of practice,” Girotra said.

Girotra highlighted the diverse range of fabrics with different price points. This variety gives the consumer a chance to do his bit for a sustainable environment within budget without compromising on quality, he said.

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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