The Evolution of Print
You might be tempted to think that interactive print is all about gimmicks, things that make a big splash for a short period of time, but then fade into obscurity. But that would be a mistake.
“Interactive print is more than crucial to today’s print shop,” says Iris Shalev, Marketing Coordinator, Direct Mail 2.0 (Booth 3745). “In fact, if a print shop is not implementing interactive print yet, that print shop is already behind. The technology is here, and has been here for years, the market demands and expects to have access to interactive print through their print shop.”
But why is this segment growing so rapidly? Doris Brown-McNally, Worldwide Brands Innovation Manager, and Jacob Shamis, Americas Brands Innovation Manager, HP. Inc. (Booth 613), note that much of it is tied to the generational shift, and how younger people think about and view technology, marketing and brands. “Millennials—those individuals born between 1977 & 2000—now make up 25% of the U.S. population and 21% of consumer discretionary purchases, which is estimated to be over a trillion dollars in direct buying power, and a huge influence on older generations. Nearly 53% of Millennials’ households already have children. One in four Millennials are parents today. This is a significant demographic for brands.”
And Millennials aren’t the only ones. “The degree of importance of having an interactive print strategy will grow rapidly based on the demands of younger audiences as they become interested in communications in general,” says Kurt Konow, Creative Director of Marketing Communications, Commercial & Industrial Printing Business Group, Ricoh USA, Inc. (Booth 2022). “But, if the technology staples of Generation Z (post-Millennials) are any indication of expectations, then interactive print will be a fundamental requirement in communications very soon.”
For attendees at PRINT 17, this is a major consideration. Konow went on to stress that, “print, like any communication, is all about engaging your audience. Interactive print provides more ways for audiences to engage with a printed communication, and that additional content is only becoming easier to access as the technology improves. Because of that, adoption is becoming broader, and engagement is increasing. Therefore, print service providers should adopt an interactive print strategy to enable more engagement opportunities amongst consumers of print.”
That interactive strategy can take a wide range of forms, from partnering with technology companies that can help develop and insert high-tech components into ads, to working with augmented reality apps that allow the brand to add components like audio and video to the printed piece, or to simple changes like adding more specialty coatings to the shop that can simulate a wider range of textures, and even add unusual textures like salt or gravel directly to the piece.
“Print, and more specifically digital print, is one of the most effective platforms that help to inspire an emotional reaction,” says Brown-McNally and Shamis. “There are many tools that help us use digital print for this purpose, be it tactile print, specialty inks, or the latest technologies in interactive print. This is becoming more and more important to marketers, and PSPs should arm themselves with the knowledge and tools to answer their customer’s needs. In the coming years the digital world and the printed world will bridge together through the use of specialty applications that run on mobile devices.”
As you walk this year’s show floor, attend seminars, sit in on panel sessions and network with your peers, be on the lookout for innovative new ideas you can bring to your shop. Try to find ways to make your pieces more interactive with the equipment and capabilities you already have, and pay close attention to the software, equipment, and services on display for targeted new investments that can open up whole new market segments.