Print Stations not suited to more 'mature' economies

HP introduced Marketsplash in the US almost three years ago as a means of giving SMEs access to web-to-print capabilities.

What we saw after the launch was that a lot of print service providers (PSPs) were offering web-to-print (W2P) and doing a better job than HP. They were offering more services, more substrates and more types of print. Marketsplash was a very good idea that was taken up and realised by the PSPs, so the need for Marketsplash was no longer there.

HP Print Station was very different – it was initially designed for emerging geographies to accelerate the creation of copyshops in countries that perhaps did not have the infrastructure in place. It was initially introduced in South Africa and the MEMA region (Middle East, Mediterranean, Africa) and it was working reasonably well in these emerging economies, but as soon as we moved the concept into mature countries, we found that a successful copyshop needed a much bigger economy of scale.

We looked at the trends and decided that while HP Print Station is an interesting programme, it’s not going to generate a lot of growth in the future and we would be better focusing our investment into the added-value pages typically printed by PSPs.

With both Marketsplash and Print Station, we looked at the market and asked: ‘what is growing faster?’ The conclusion is really clear: at the moment, PSPs are growing really fast using digital technology.

Changing perceptions
The common theme between these programmes is education, whether that’s about W2P in the US or setting up a copyshop in South Africa, and what we are doing now for PSPs is trying to educate advertising agencies and brand owners to better take advantage of digital print. A lot of firms still don’t understand that digital can change the way they communicate, generate savings, be more relevant, reduce inventory, and improve the supply chain, and by educating them we are developing more demand for the PSPs. It takes some time for people to overcome perceptions – when we speak to these end-users, they still think that digital is not what they need. However, when you show them that the quality of digital is very high, that it can print on any substrate and be used for long print runs, they change their minds.

As a result we have changed our strategy and we’re now spending more time with the end-user. In our new programme, we will be holding regular seminars with specific industries, talking to large advertising companies to make sure they know what they can do with digital print, and at the same events we are going to link them with PSPs. We have appointed a worldwide project manager for this and allocated a specific amount of money to grow demand, we have defined plans and we are going to start with the implementation stage in North America and the UK from 1 November. By doing this we are really helping all PSPs with digital print capability because, while we will recommend HP PSPs, at the end it is the brand owners who are the ones deciding where they will buy their print.

François Martin is marketing director, EMEA, HP Graphics Solutions Business


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