#ThinkPaper Conversation: Print will remain but it will never be what it was!
#Think!Paper — Edition 3, Vol. 4
Interview by Andreas Weber, Head of Value
Smart, clever, experienced, multicultural — François Martin is a print expert you need to be in contact with. I have known him for almost 15 years, we explored, presented, published and discussed a lot together, sometimes even controversially. The result was always an enrichment for us as well as for others. It is worthwhile to read his thoughts.
What is the beauty of print in the digital age?
François Martin: Print and on-line have their own usage and purpose. The raise of digital made some printed documents such as user manuals and newspaper almost obsolete and this is great – less waste in printing and transportation. At the same time, it is easier to learn using a printed book, it is easier to use a printed catalogue where you can make annotation.
The point is that each of us has his own way to access and retrieve information – some will prefer print (eg a travel guide), others will prefer an on-line information access. You want to disconnect from your screen and this is where paper is important.
The truth is that print declined a lot of the last 20 years and it will continue as you have other ways to be effective. At the same time not all pages will disappear – the one adding value and emotion will remain – and the reasons is simple, we do not want to be only connected.
Something interesting to note is that after years of emailing growth, printed direct mail is back in to the marketing mix. We are bombarded by mails and a cool/funny direct mail will capture well your attention effectively.
The beauty of print is that it can take any shape – it can be flat on a screen when needed, it can have textured effects on a postcard to remind us about something, it can be a nice photobook to read at leisure.
So, print has a role to play, no longer a leading role but a role around commodity, emotion & reaction and memory preservation.
Everything in the Mobile Age is so fast. Why is the adaption of digital printing technology innovations so slow?
François Martin: The adoption of digital for commercial print is not slow. It is slow for the one who assumed it would replace offset totally but the reality is that digital took off in an incredible manner being in almost any print shops and at the same time offset gained in automation.
The total European printed products production decreased by almost 24% between 2008 and 2017 and within the printed production, digital has grown a lot – especially for all what has to be printed on demand and or in short runs.
Even for books digital made major in-roads. On-demand book printing is great and it saved a lot of trees and money. We do not read less but we read books we want, printed when we need them with far less obsolete inventories. We also have far less magazines returned from shops and we reduced the printed and transportation costs.
I see a continuous trend for digital printing to grow especially when the cost of inks will further decline.
Print is evolving according to the Darwin law. Digital is a new more agile animal which will overtime replace an older specie.
What are the key drivers for a powerful & successful print service biz today and what will it be in the future?
François Martin: The key driver to be a successful print service provider? – easy. Do not say you are a printer but position yourself as a marketing service provider. Print is a way to communicate something – otherwise, why to print? Help your clients discussing with them what they want to achieve and design with them what is the most relevant way. Use embellishment on print more – use personalization / customization – use cool substrates. Make communication emotional and attractive. Combine print with on-line, add Augmented Reality to print if you need. Offer web-to-print capabilities as this is what many want to have for the still to be printed commodity pages – eg a simple brochure still needed.
What will be commercial print in the future? Overall less print – this is truth we need to accept. More web-to-print solutions – easier and offering more choices. Equipment wise fully integrated and automated machines providing print, embellishment and finishing without much human intervention.
In short, print will remain but it will never be what it was.
Merci beaucoup. — Thanks for the great and inspiring conversation.
Coffee Talk in Israel focussing drupa 2012: François Martin and Andreas Weber presenting market trends leading to the analog to digital transformation.
François Martin has been working in the printing and packaging industry since 2005 in various marketing roles. As Senior Consultant, he today continues to communicate innovations which will help converters and brand owners to create a more agile and more sustainable packaging production across the entire supply chain.
He strongly believes that digitalization, automation and connectivity are the main drivers to shape the future of packaging production. He is also convinced that the new consumer generation will force the entire industry to drastically reduce its environmental impact answering their needs for a customized experience addressing their values.
Before becoming an industry consultant in 2018, François was the global head of marketing for the HP Graphics Solutions Business.
#Think!Paper — the key facts at a glance
What we do
We evaluate and profile print and its proponents as an effective driving force for transformation – across all industries!
We show, first and foremost, that print is by no means driftwood in an ocean of transformation (with Titanic-style effects) but rather a solid anchor for the ‘tsunamis in our heads’!
- We are bringing together the brightest minds to form interdisciplinary #Think!Teams with a global outlook.
- We are building up the finest pool of expertise with a clear focus on interaction, discourse, customer experience and sustainable conversations.
- We are reinforcing the bedrock of any successful ‘digital’ transformation – proficient, dynamic and meaningful communication.
Benefits for our partners
We help our partners make new and market-relevant discoveries that inspire them and inject new energy into their development.