Print Buyer Survey Reveals Key Factors Influencing Provider Selection
Organizations have many options when it comes to printed communications: they can print jobs in-house, choose a digital strategy, work with another print provider, or they can choose you.
Meeting the needs of today’s customers requires a realistic understanding of their expectations, technology knowledge, and perceptions of applications and providers. More communication options, innovations in digital technologies, and changes in print purchasing have created a new class of print buyer.
Research Reveals Buyer Expectations
Looking to define those key buyer expectations, NAPCO Research surveyed over 200 print buyers or influencers. The survey research, sponsored by Canon U.S.A., revealed essential insights on what print buyers and influencers expect from providers, ways to enhance the buyer experience, and strategies for outreach and engagement. (Click here for a webinar replay of survey key findings.)
The survey results offer insight on the best moves for engaging customers, building loyalty, and attracting new business in a highly competitive market. The research effort yielded a series of five reports covering trends in print buyers’ needs, purchasing processes, in-plants and communication use. (Click here to download the full research reports.)
The research reveals that today’s buyers are highly sophisticated and often specify the process and equipment used to produce print work. Over two-thirds of survey respondents (67%) report being extremely familiar with the printing processes used to print their company’s materials. What’s more, 86% of print buyer respondents indicate they specify print processes and/or brands of printing devices used to produce their print work (Figure 1).
On the topic of picking a provider based on the brand of equipment used to produce work, 70% of respondents report it is a key decision factor (Figure 2). Print providers often question if their sales and marketing efforts should include the brands of printing equipment used in their operation. This survey response sheds light on the value of promoting the brand of printing equipment used.
These survey responses underscore the importance of understanding and considering customer requirements when making hardware and software investments as today’s print buyers are highly astute in printing processes and equipment. Discussing equipment and software investment plans with customers is one way to test the expected benefit of the investment and how it will enhance customer benefits.
Other key research findings include:
- Color Matching and Consistency a High Priority. Survey respondents indicate color matching and consistency are high priority considerations in selecting and keeping print providers. Over two-thirds of print buyer respondents prefer to work with print providers that are G7 certified. This finding underscores that today’s print buyers are highly sophisticated and expect their print providers to have processes in place to deliver consistent color across their various print jobs.
- Accreditations and Certifications Matter. There are many print accreditations and certifications for improving internal processes and meeting customer requirements. The survey asked respondents to rank the importance of key quality and regulatory compliance designations. The top three operational certifications/designations respondents deemed absolutely essential in their selection of print providers are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) compliance, G7 color certification, and ISO 9000 certifications. In addition, more than half of survey respondents deemed sustainability certifications and designations as highly important when selecting a print provider.
- Customer Education is a Win-Win. Print buyers report they are eager to expand their understanding of the print production process. When asked what print production areas they want to learn more about, survey respondents’ top choices were digital printing technology and improving color quality and consistency. Other areas of interest include preparing print job files, substrates, digital enhancements, and combining print with other media. Educating customers on these key production areas can enhance relationships, while increasing production efficiency and productivity.
- Personal Customer Connections are Essential. The research also calls out the vital importance of personal connections with customers, especially for salespeople. Most print buyer respondents expect their print sales contacts to provide excellent service and responsiveness. Print buyer respondents also require that their salesperson understand their needs and have the strong technical knowledge required to solve problems.
- Job Submission is a Critical Client Interaction Point. Making it easier for print customers to order jobs, monitor work status, control branding, and better manage spending, eases customer anxiety and enhances their experience in working with a provider. According to the survey, 81% of print buyers prefer working with a print service provider that offers an online ordering tool. That type of online resource helps print buyers better manage print spending and control their brand.
Excellent Customer Experiences Build Loyalty
Print providers have many options to enhance customer experiences, from implementing programs to ensure quality, reliability, and creativity to educating customers to improving ordering and job management. Enhanced customer experiences are essential to keeping print buyers returning for more print services.
ABOUT NAPCO RESEARCH
The combined NAPCO and PRINTING United Alliance research teams develop research and economic models that solve customer business problems. Market research is valuable for making strategic business decisions, solving challenges, and pursuing opportunities and the NAPCO Media research teams survey, analyze, and monitor critical trends related to marketing, printing, packaging, non-profit organizations, promotional products, and retailing. To learn more about how the team can leverage its research and industry subject matter experts to support your organizations needs contact NAPCO’s Vice President of Research, Nathan Safran, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.