Do more to make more as the bounce back begins

Tim Carter, sales director, Ricoh UK 
Monday, July 19, 2021

Brands have been turning to print – in some cases for the first time – as the recovery from Covid begins. So, is now the time to wow clients with stunning effects and special colours?

Digital print enhancement represents a real opportunity
Digital print enhancement represents a real opportunity

Vogue magazine recently ran a series of articles focusing on the shifts in consumer behaviours in the post-pandemic world, and how luxury brands are responding. The first of these articles, in March 2021, headlined ‘Post-pandemic playbook: The return to physical marketing’, revealed how several luxury fashion brands were looking to “traditional analogue marketing” to “cut through the noise online” and connect with consumers at home.

Some of these had never used printed direct mail before, but are now seeing a significant uplift in response, when compared to their online marketing results. One such brand is the fashion house Frances Valentine, which launched its first direct mail campaign in June 2020, as stores and events closed. It had previously relied solely on digital marketing, but the direct activity saw it beat catalogue sales estimates by 215%, according to the Vogue article.

Similarly, a report in The Guardian last November highlighted how brands were increasing catalogue and direct mail spend in the run up to Christmas – some using these channels for the first time – capitalising on the fact that more people were spending more time at home.

Ricoh's downloadable ebook covers topics from what makes a successful print company to what success looks like

This should be of great interest to printers everywhere, especially those pursuing a value-driven, rather than a cost-driven, approach. At Ricoh, we have seen these trends playing out across various sectors, from books and direct mail, to stationery and packaging, in these early days of recovery from Covid. But if the value of print as a marketing medium is starting to enjoy renewed appreciation, it is critical that printers grasp the opportunity to really show how creative and impactful print can be and how spending a little more on a premium product can add incredible power and value to marketing results.

Clever use of data and personalisation are great ways of achieving this standout, but moving beyond CMYK to enhance print with gold and silver metallic and white inks and toners, clear varnishes that add texture, and an ever-increasing range of gamut expanding colours, gives printers the ability to really elevate what they produce. Very often these “5th colours” and effects can be printed inline with CMYK, such as with the Ricoh Pro C7200X series digital printers, while additional special effects such as foiling can be applied later to add value.

These digital print enhancement techniques can be used to delight clients, enhance the printer’s reputation for innovation, and improve their profitability, with InfoTrends research indicating that margins can be anything from 50% to 400%, depending on the enhancement that is used. It is often countered that print buyers are not prepared to pay extra for these print embellishments. However, InfoTrends’ research suggests otherwise, with buyers indicating a willingness to pay a premium of up to almost 90% on some digital print enhancements. On speciality colours, this is a more modest 42%.

Ricoh's Pro C7200X features gold and silver printing

Nevertheless, digital print enhancement represents a real opportunity to breathe new life into printed communications, at a time when print buyers across all sectors are displaying an increased readiness to embrace physical media within the marketing mix.

Of course, the creative concepts of print embellishment have to be sold in the right way – understanding your client’s needs and challenges; taking exciting samples of new techniques along to agency meetings to help fire the creative imagination; marrying the innovation with real data and results to make your case. It is important for printers to gain from adding value, and we work with many print companies on developing the best sales strategies to ensure this.

With renewed interest in print as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are opportunities for printers. They have at their disposal a brilliant medium, tactile and adaptable, and one that can be made to work even harder. With the right approach, incorporating digital print enhancement, stunning effects on the page can be matched with their effect on marketing return, keeping print not just in Vogue, but truly in vogue.

*We will be discussing the market opportunity of digital print enhancement and giving a live demonstration of our new Gold and Silver Metallic toners at the “Unlocking the full potential of CMYK+ printing with metallic toners” webinar on 10 August – join us!

For more information and to register for the webinar, click here

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