Wednesday, 09 Jan 2019 11:41 GMT

Adding Value to Print

Printers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Whilst they might not be beaten on price, they can be beaten on quality. Summer Brooks asks how can you add value to print?

Detoxing with quality print

Whilst many in advertising and marketing will argue that digital is the only way for brands to communicate with their clients, several will argue that they are wrong. As quickly as screens have become a part of daily life, just as quickly have people wanted a break from them. And it’s here, where print still has a part to play. Print allows someone to take a considered look, pour over a magazine, take in the information in a slower way.

More often than not, this kind of interaction is more likely to bring someone to action – to visit a website or look into buying a product that they read about in a leaflet or a mini catalogue that comes through the post. The tactile nature of print is bringing people back to it and with so many possibilities, printers are in a unique position to offer something truly special to their clients. People notice quality print – and if there’s another way to add more value to that print, then why wouldn’t a printer offer it?

Being able to offer something different is what sets a printer apart from the rest. So, what is value-added print and how can you achieve it?

Adding value to print has a whole host of meanings attached to it – for some, adding value can mean going the extra mile for customers. For others, it’s elaborate embellishments that make a print product that little bit more special. Either way, it is about impressing a customer with print products they wouldn’t be able to source from a web-to-print provider, which are posing a threat on pricing for printers. Whilst they operate on pace and a low price, they cannot offer specialist print in the way most small and medium print businesses can – if they know how to go about it.

Rob Brown, head of specialty print for North West Europe at OKI, says the firm is looking to move from the print-for-pay market to the print-for-use market as it believes that adding value is easier to achieve when printing is brought in-house, rather than sourcing it from a commercial print house.

“In this context, value-added print really means being able to do something different from the norm with the print capability,” says Brown. “Most printers can handle a standard four-colour printed page or print items like business cards and flyers. At OKI, we deliver value-added print through our speciality print capability. We do this through our ability to deliver transfer printing using white toner and our five-colour technology in general. OKI printers also allow high-quality media handling and a disparate range of different sizes, types and textures of media that customers can put through OKI printers.”

Foiling is an ever-growing popular technique to make print stand out

Stuart Bamford, post-press sales manager at Friedheim, says adding value to print is all about the end user’s positive reaction to an item of print. He says: “Usually through embellishment; foiling, hot foil stamping, embossing, die-cutting, kiss cutting, spot UV varnishing, laminating, quality of folding, quality of a finished book, our list is as endless as the processes our 28 manufacturers are world famous for.

“For our customers, value-added print means increasing the margin they can get for putting ink on paper and getting the finished item into the customer’s hands – all with their customer being happy with the final product.”

Andy Benson, managing director at Duplo, says the firm’s focus is on providing points of difference to its customers. “It’s about giving them a reason to differentiate what they are offering to their customers,” he says. “We are endeavouring to provide different treatments, different finishes, different executions that make the product that our customers give to their customers, different.”

He adds: “People are bouncing back to use print as the medium at the top end of their marketing spends, and by adding value through different effects and finishes, that can only help accelerate that and increase the consideration of product consumers who are viewing printed material. Looking at things on a screen is really good in a variety of different ways, but if you get a piece of printed material crossing your desk it gives you a reason to stop and have a good look at it.”

Spotting the trends

What is it your customers are looking for? In marketing, dwell time is massively increased on print products when there is something unusual about it – either it boasts vibrant colours, bright white ink, or maybe it has an unusual texture.

Brown of OKI comments: “Undoubtedly, the biggest trend we are seeing today is personalisation.  People are increasingly prepared to pay a premium for a personalised product, whether that be a t-shirt; a textile-based product or bag with their name on it, or a customised greeting card, chocolate bar wrapper or sweet tin.

“It underlines the scale of the opportunity for businesses to develop products that are differentiated across a wide range of sectors and tap into incremental revenue streams and drive up productivity levels as a direct result.”

O Factoid: The global personalised gifts market is expected to be worth $31.63bn (£25bn) by 2021.O

The UK publishing industry was worth £5.7bn in 2017, up 5% from the previous year according to the Publishers Association. And the book printing sector is not showing any signs of slowing down, especially with the possibilities that value-added print can offer. Bamford of Friedheim comments: “Even some customers who we know have high volume binding lines have been asking us about short-run lengths and the Zechini machines that cater to them.

“They want to know about some of the more specialised sides of the hard-back cover process, and how these short-run can be catered to. Because of the ease of use, training isn’t a problem with these machines and they have such a small foot print that one hardly notices them in the middle of a large factory.”

Vivid Laminating, which has developed the Matrix range of laminators and the Magnum range of binding/creasing and folding systems, has seen a rise in demand for different finishes and the ability to use a larger range of paper types.

Iain Thornton, marketing manager at Vivid, comments: “We are seeing a rise in the greeting card market for print enhancement including the capability for individually customised cards with foils, effects and laminates. Because the metallic can add such effects to wider range of papers than ever before, we are expecting this area to increase for Vivid.” The firm recently supplied a large digital printer and fulfiller of a major online personalised greeting card company with a Matrix Metallic system, allowing it to add foil and spot UV on demand, using their standard paper stock.

Friedheim, which supplies a range of finishing equipment for commercial print, has also seen a considerable number of printers bringing their laminating and foiling needs in-house. Bamford adds: “Much of the time we get asked about which machines will reduce downtimes between jobs – our kit especially caters to this growing need especially MBO folders with the 15-minute job change due to their patented slitter shaft cassette.

“Many printers may not need this as they have very long-run lengths, but we’ve seen first-hand that the MBO range is perfectly placed to aid a company which has many jobs coming off of the printer but vary in format. Not many people can afford to lose an entire shift due to changing format.”

The Versafire EV digital press from Heidelberg is capable of printing neon yellow and neon pink which show up under UV light

Litho has the advantage of offering more inline options for creating distinctive print. And the trend of personalisation seems to be stretching to printers tailoring the actual machines themselves to suit their needs. Matt Rockley, presses product specialist at Heidelberg comments: “Press specifications are becoming more bespoke, tailored to the needs of the printer and what he believes his customers do want or may want in the future. This could involve multiple colour units or multiple coaters run with or without perfecting units.

“There is the potential to create effects with coating technology that enables gloss and matt finishes to be applied easily together on one sheet. It relies on clever prepress technology. The angle of application and direction of viewing determines the specialist gloss look. Geometric shapes, textures, ornaments, contone gradations and typographical effects can be used to produce clever and eye-catching results.” The firm offers a range of coating options that work to increase the value of print through touch, including Cristala and Soft Touch.

The Duplo DuSense DDC-810 provides precise spot UV coating to add a sensory layer to print
Duplo’s DuSense offers the unique ability to add a fifth layer to a print, tapping into the tactile nature of print as an attractive medium for marketing.  Benson comments: “You can really turn a piece of good quality communication into something that will massively increase the dwell time in any consumer of that piece of communication.

You can really turn a piece of good quality communication into something that will massively increase the dwell time in any consumer of that piece of communication

“That process gives our customers and in turn, their customers, a great reason to spend some of the marketing dollars on direct printed media as a great form of communication, for any campaign they’re looking to run.

“The sensory coating brings that new sense into it. It’s been evidenced that the more senses you influence with any kind of communication, the more likely someone is to consider that communication. That’s where sensory coating really can add value.”

Suppliers are noticing certain sectors tapping into value-added print, from artisan food producers to universities. “We are seeing universities using white toner, available on five-colour printers, in a bid to harness student and tutors’ creativity,” says Brown. “Previously, some intricate created designs were unable to be printed on materials due to their complexity, but OKI technology has removed these limitations.

“Other commercial enterprises are using a similar value-added print approach to create finished outputs, whether they are personalised t-shirts, or customised products, made from waterproof, tearproof or freezer-resistant materials.”

Knowledge is power

Brown concludes: “Printing solutions vendors and resellers need to focus on exactly what the printer is capable of. Often, you will hear from resellers who have sold a five-colour printer to a customer, and yet that customer is still not using the machine to its full capability. Most organisations are trying to grow their business. The fastest, most obvious way of doing that is to offer something new to your existing customers. If you can make your customers aware that you can produce something that is different or something personalised, then your customers are likely to come to you and take that on board.”

Andy Benson, managing director at Duplo

Benson’s advice? “Be bold. And be prepared to ask for a decent premium for something that differentiates what you do. Marketing dollars are there to be invested on things that make a difference and sometimes I think we are afraid to ask for more for what we’re trying to do. We are differentiating what we’re doing and that’s worth charging a premium for – customers will pay premiums in the range of 24 – 89% for digital print enhancements over CMYK-only work. Don’t be afraid to charge for the investments that you’re making.”

Bamford adds: “I think educating their customers is key. If only some of the end users knew some of the processes that add an extra dimension to a print run – they would jump at it. Printers need to showcase the best that they can achieve – not what the press can achieve – but what high quality print merged with some incredible embellishment can do; the tactile feel of the spot varnish or the embossing, sometimes it’s simply the way light will fall on a flyer that has been through a Komfi OTF machine with some hologram on it.

“But the perception that you have something special in your hands will always come from the finishing side of the process. Increasing the services that printers provide will cement the relationship they have with customers and turn the printer into an integral part of the marketing campaign.”