Fuelling the digital print renaissance

Mary Ann Yule
November 11, 2018
By Mary Ann Yule
It’s true that the digital age has transformed many of our daily tasks and with the proliferation of smartphone apps and voice-activated assistants, it’s easy to think that print is becoming obsolete. However, those working in the industry know the opposite is true and early-movers across Canada are already reaping the benefits.

The following are three distinct opportunities that Canadian businesses can leverage to harness the power of digital printing and stay ahead of the curve.

The cache of customization
Worldwide, major brands are looking for any edge they can find to capture consumer attention. Customized packaging has proven to be an effective means of captivating consumers in an already competitive and cluttered landscape. To appeal to consumers’ need for personalized experiences, Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ program brought Canadians millions of individually labeled bottles with their name on it. The program has since evolved beyond names to include words that reflect shared and seasonal experiences. Exclusive labels allowed the brand to rekindle consumer interest and target new customers resulting in increased sales for the first time in 10 years.

Custom packaging isn’t just for big brands. In fact, customized eye-catching packaging can not only help start-ups and SMBs punch above their weight class, but it is also an affordable option that can reduce waste. A microbrewery, for instance, no longer needs to print 50,000 bottle labels, with the possibility that thousands will go unused if sales don’t materialize. Instead, it can print exactly what it needs – even just 500 – without incurring additional cost.

3D printing walks the talk
Canadians are embracing a new form of printing altogether with 3D printing, a technology that’s gained huge momentum in the last few years and is now being incorporated into business initiatives and innovations. More importantly, 3D printing will enable the on-demand production of customized goods, effectively reinventing retail and manufacturing.
 
Custom, made-to-order products is one example of how 3D print technology can reinvent industries across the world. To further illustrate this point, it is estimated that 3D printing technology will expand at a 30-percent compound annual growth rate to an $18 billion industry by 2021. The potential is even bigger than most can even imagine given that this number is a tiny fraction of a $12 trillion manufacturing industry.

Transformative environments
Print is still very much part of our lives and this becomes obvious when we think of the ways that graphics printing is used. Often, these print experiences work in tandem with digital to create a full-sensory experience that includes the physical elements only print can provide.

Think about a visit to a shopping mall or a sporting event. Oversized banners, photo-quality posters and custom wallpaper immerse visitors in a branded experience influencing the customer journey and impacting purchase behaviour. Vehicles – from race cars to buses and trucks – wrapped with high-resolution images become mobile billboards. Unique candy bar wrappers support promotions and create games for purchasers, driving purchase decisions in a notoriously competitive market. Even children undergoing anxiety-producing procedures at hospitals and clinics can enjoy a space voyage when diagnostic and treatment rooms are transformed using print technology.

Print will continue to co-exist with online media, providing us with a full-sensory experience including the physical elements only print can provide, enhanced by the power of technology. The future of print is digital and businesses of all types and sizes should leverage print’s power to outmaneuver competition and remain one step ahead. Whether that’s customization of products, transforming environments or 3D printed goods, incorporating the latest print technology can help accelerate any business to the next level.

Mary Ann Yule is President of HP Canada.

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