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Print industry predictions part 2: the death of litho

This is a series of predictions on how the printing industry might look in 10 years time…,

We live in a world of personalised data

Data drives everything. From decisions on our health and our finances through to what marketing messages we are shown, the focus is relentlessly shifting to the individual. Nearly every experience we receive has been personalised to some extent.

The most powerful companies are those that harvest data. That is why we have seen the meteoric rise of corporations such as Amazon and Facebook. But there are also a lot of very influential companies that are teaching their clients how to use data more effectively.

The continued rise of personalisation is good news for the printing industry.

Print can (and should) be part of this

Personalisation in print is nothing new. I remember receiving my first personalised pieces of print over 20 years’ ago. And before that I used to receive marketing letters with Matthew badly overprinted in numerous places!

But we have moved on hugely in recent years. Do you want personalised foil, varnish or laser cutting? That’s no problem. Whatever you want personalised, it can be done. Personalisation is just as common in wide format as in general printing.

More importantly, it is simple to create sophisticated marketing pieces. Every image and every block of text can be changed in any configuration for each recipient.

Personalisation is now highly cost effective in all areas, including large format.

So, now that personalisation is easy and affordable, why would we want litho print?

Inkjet is becoming ever more powerful. Speed is no longer an issue. The development of nanography holds the potential to make speeds even higher.

The only reasons not to personalise are lack of data, which is rarely an issue, and cost. The cost of personalisation is reducing all the time. More importantly, customers are realising the extra profits that they can take from personalisation. This is now becoming much more widely understood by the majority of businesses.

What about data laws?

Rightly or wrongly, most people are happy to part with data. People will give their data in return for the right incentives. Currently, there is more flexibility with print and European data laws. You can create campaigns with print that you are not allowed to create digitally.

Print is increasingly going down the route of smaller runs of higher value items to specific audiences. The old days of “carpet bombing” with direct mail are largely dead.

Is litho really dead? Here’s a prediction that might convince you

I am convinced that traditional litho markets will change. Let’s take publishing. Subscription models will certainly become more personalised. But I predict that magazines will change in their distribution. There will be regional variations of publications. Those regional variations will become surprisingly detailed and varied. It will increase reader engagement and returns from advertising.

Book publishing will move to a just in time manufacturing model for all but the largest editions. This will reduce inventory costs and publishing risk substantially. It will also allow publishers to maintain a vibrant backlist.

Magazine and book publishers will be producing more and more on digital presses.

I’m sure there will continue to be specialised uses for litho

Even letterpress still has a relevant place in today’s printing industry. But I can’t see many mainstream printers buying a litho press in ten tears’ time…

Are you personal with your message?

The Successful Print Sales Circle frequently learn some surprising ways to become more personal, starting in month 3. Enrolment opens again at the end of September.

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