CATALOG Market -- Recovery Is a Custom Order
There will be four critical drivers of success for the printing industry in 2004 and beyond, asserts the RR Donnelley exec.
1.) Giving customers the flexibility to respond to emerging trends.
"This will allow for pricing and merchandise decisions to be made closer to market, mailing to the freshest names and timely reaction to trends. It requires the seamless integration of production to further compress cycle time," Knotts explains.
2.) Helping customers distinguish their catalogs with precision quality.
"The catalog must accurately and consistently portray the color and texture of products being sold. This requires printers to apply the rigors of science to the art of printing through Six Sigma and continuous improvement methodologies," Knotts asserts.
3.) Providing capabilities that enhance the client's ability to deliver the right message to the right potential buyer.
"In today's multi-channel world, continuity of image and message is critical to growing the customer's brand, while personalization creates a more memorable customer experience," he says.
4.) Having logistics networks that deliver catalogs on the very day a potential customer is most likely to respond.
"The industry must continue to work as postal reform advocates with a commitment to process integration so as to hit mail dates and maximize production efficiencies," the Donnelley exec concludes.
Banta's Deterding says he has seen an increase in the frequency of mailings, as well as some growth in page counts. Demographics and personalization have become the primary marketing drivers, he notes, which is leading to the production of more catalogs.
There are other factors—postage and distribution costs, in particular—that continue to undermine catalog growth. "We are positioning our services to reduce the impact of these factors through enhanced delivery services and the development of co-mailing strategies," he says.
"As major partners in the production of catalogs, printers must continue to pursue technology that improves efficiencies and enhances quality, such as closed-loop color systems, and continue to develop revenue-generating capabilities for our clients," Deterding adds. Stochastic/FM printing is another technology Banta is in the process of rolling out to customers, some 20 percent of which already use the process. "The results, to date, have been extremely well received."