Most of us spend all too many hours each day staring at smooth and shiny screens. That would appear to be bad news for paper producers. In reality, it’s anything but a negative for manufacturers of innovative new paper products. And what’s good for them is also good for print providers.
Paper producers, the print service providers to whom they sell, and their marketing and advertising clients are getting reacquainted with the fact that richly textured papers in varying colors and finishes command attention and invite touches, especially from those forced to interact with boring computer screens most of their lives.
“Colors, textures, something that’s tactile really makes a difference these days,” says Kristen Hogan, senior brand manager for Neenah Paper. “It’s a lot more memorable when people get something tactile that is printed on high-quality paper with an interesting texture.”
Clearly, new papers unveiled over the past few years hold great potential for sales growth and creative opportunities among print providers.
Drivers of Growth
The new appreciation for paper is also in part due to a leveling out of cost-benefit equations, says Ferk X. Goldinger, marketing manager for Appleton Coated. For a while, print was being slashed entirely, and marketing efforts were going to the Internet. “Now we’re seeing a retreat from that, to a combination of print and Internet,” he says. “Some of the budget is going to really innovative papers that get attention and deliver results.”
Brian Cummins, product development specialist with Nekoosa Coated Products, notes a recent survey examining ways advertisers try to reach consumers—including online, email, TV, print media, and direct mail—reveals that the act of physically placing a printed piece in someone’s hands via direct mail continues to be a highly effective way to build brand awareness.
Innovation in paper products also has been spurred by shorter print runs made possible by digital printing. “Printers can easily leverage their digital press investment by looking to materials for creative applications. Whether premium textured and colored papers and envelopes that capture attention in the mail box, or synthetic substrates for more unusual applications like door hangers and waterproof menus—materials matter,” says Mohawk’s Chris Harrold, VP business development, digital.
Digital printing also has made it more cost-effective for advertisers to experiment with different papers. “With shorter runs in digital, we’re starting to see people use really fancy papers,” Goldinger says. “That’s because their print costs have declined, letting them funnel some of that money into the papers.”
New Applications Possible
How can PSPs leverage these creative new ideas in paper? Goldinger believes they can do so by being creative themselves. “For print providers, creativity is offering new capabilities and new technologies, knowing their clients’ businesses, and finding ways to merge them,” he says. “Some might call that sales, but I call it creativity.”
For instance, sales representatives might want to explain to clients in the not-for-profit realm how the use of differentiated paper—perhaps textured paper, or colored or translucent envelopes— captures results in direct mail fundraising campaigns. “In fundraising capital campaigns, your ROI is in the donations you receive as a result of such appeals,” Goldinger says. “PSPs need to show their clients these papers can help achieve that ROI.”
PSPs would also be well advised to be creative in considering the packaging area, particularly given the amount of digital finishing equipment available now for custom short-run packaging, Goldinger adds. “This opens up opportunities that once went solely to long-run package printing houses,” he adds.