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Focus On

Speciality Paper

Print produced on speciality paper is an increasingly popular option for targeted marketing campaigns. Harriet Gordon speaks with experts to see if this could spell a renaissance

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As many marketing experts are waking up to the unique power of high-end, personalised print, some in the industry are suggesting speciality papers could lead the print renaissance

Textured Renaissance

The main goal of marketing or advertising is to leave an impression. The stronger the impact, the more successful the campaign. It is better to shock, surprise, and even disturb your audience, than to leave them feeling nothing, ready to immediately forget your product or service without a second thought.

Consumers these days are bombarded with advertisements. Whether it is spam emails, generic direct-mailed print, or leaflets handed out in the street, the messages these businesses are trying to convey end up becoming little more than white noise.

So, how can you achieve that elusive but all-important impact? The simple answer is: do something different. Stand out. Invest in higher-quality, stimulating marketing material, which, while perhaps reaching fewer people, will leave an impression with the consumers that really count.
Pink noise

This is a message that seems to be hitting home with marketing professionals across the board; finally, it seems the love affair with digital, online marketing is over. James Jarvis, channel director for print at Antalis, comments on the journey print has gone through since the rise of digital marketing, suggesting that the industry is experiencing a renaissance led by high-quality, speciality paper.

Jarvis from Antalis states that as consumers start to grow immune to the barrage of digital communications they receive, marketeers are being forced to reconsider their approach

He says: “The print industry has faced some significant challenges in the past decade, particularly from the proliferation of digital media which is now competing head-to-head with print communication,” Jarvis says, adding: “However, despite the decline in print volumes, the demand for high quality, creative print which offers high visual impact and multisensory interaction continues to rise.

Despite the decline in print volumes, the demand for high quality, creative print which offers high visual impact and multisensory interaction continues to rise

“The initial rush by businesses for everything to move online has now started to plateau, especially in the marketing sector. While digital media has obvious benefits as a fast, immediate and easy-to-use tool, consumers are starting to grow immune to the barrage of digital communications they receive, and are even being urged to undertake a ‘digital detox’ for improved life/technology balance. In the wake of this, marketeers are being forced to reconsider their approach.”

Indeed, research undertaken by the Royal Mail has found that 61 percent of people believe mail gives a better impression than digital. Yet simply adding a bit of generic direct mail to a marketing campaign is unlikely to have a significant impact on response rates.

Print needs to be targeted and to stand out, requirement met, and Jarvis explains, the many developments in digital printing can help: “Digital printing is able to better meet demand for personalisation, offering cost-effective, highly targeted and impactful marketing campaigns. Advances in digital printing technology have also increased the range of materials on which print can be used.

“Different materials can add an extra dimension to the printed product, transforming what could otherwise have been a plain, generic piece into something that is visually stunning and engaging. Textured papers appeal to the senses and there is also a choice of vibrant and stunning colours, foils, metallics, translucent substrates, high gloss or ultra-matt papers that all add to the appeal.”

The different textures and finishing options available in speciality paper ranges can transform a plain piece of print into something visually striking and arresting

He continues: “In the past, it was more about what was printed than what was being printed on. Now we’ve seen a real move towards a ‘less is more’ approach, with designers taking time to select the right paper and deploy less print, to enable the properties and finish of the paper to do the majority of the work for maximum visual impact.

The use of foil blocking is also making a comeback, as well as creative finishing, such as embossing that all help to make a marketing product stand out.”

A unique choice

With this new awareness of the importance of unique, eye-catching print, marketing professionals and companies are likely to come to printers with very specific ideas in mind. If you are paying more for a piece of high-end, personalised print, you want it to match exactly the vision in your head, more so than if you are commissioning a long-run of plain, inexpensive leaflets.

It is this new, discerning type of client that Premier Paper are keen to attract. Focusing on offering a wide range of different speciality papers, the firm hopes to meet the needs of even the most demanding marketing manager.

Marketing executive Brad Goldsmith explains: “There is still a sufficient demand for large volume print jobs; however, more marketing communications today are focused, comprised of targeted campaigns that are based on consumer interests. The digital speciality market is growing, more printers are warming to the potential of what can be produced using today’s technology; because of this, the demand for product choice has never been greater.”

Brad Goldsmith of Premier Paper says customer choice is a key driver for the company; it offers products from Fedrigoni as part of this portfolio

He continues: “Most consumers today receive a vast amount of printed collateral both at the workplace and at home, it is increasingly important for printers to have access to a wide choice of products that they can offer to their customers to help get their message in front of their audience, often offering an exciting speciality paper with a unique look and feel can help to achieve this goal.

“One of the main focuses at the Premier Paper Group is customer choice. We work tirelessly with our customers and suppliers to ensure that we offer the best choice of products available, for our customers’ needs and requirements. Premier’s speciality paper portfolio includes pearlescent, metallic, synthetic and self adhesive options, as well as ground-breaking products such as MultiLoft, Tru-Flat Panoramic, Essential Wristbands, Double Thick Reveal Card amongst others. Recent additions to the portfolio have also included a range of envelopes, suitable for colour laser dry toner printing.”

With this in mind, Goldsmith concludes: “When it comes to creative papers then Premier are also able to supply products from Fedrigoni and G.F Smith, two ranges of outstanding quality and choice that lend themselves to a wide variety of specialist applications and end-uses, all available for a next day delivery.”

Cautiously optimistic

Yet, as for any market, future success is not guaranteed for the speciality paper sector. Smithers Pira, a worldwide authority on the packaging, print, and paper supply chains, produced a market report entitled The Future of Specialty Papers to 2020.

The headline statements are undeniably positive; global consumption for specialty papers reached 26.9m tonnes in 2015, up from 26.5m tonnes in 2014. This modest increase is forecast to continue over the next five years, with an annual year-on-year increase of 1.8 percent, yielding a market volume of 29.3m tonnes in 2020.

However, the report also warned the speciality paper market is always in a “state of flux”, and that the industry must be prepared to adapt to changes in market trends and fashions, as well as the varied local, regional, and national characteristics which exist in markets around the world.

The report highlighted specific potential threats to the sector. For example, in the wallpaper segment, the paper industry has struggled against newer textured paints, which recreate a wallpaper look, as well as the increasing use of natural fibres and vinyls.

Similarly, the photography segment has seen a turbulent shift from traditional developing by retailers and the collecting of paper prints in cardboard/paper/glassine albums, towards digital printing at home and more image electronic image storage.

Reflecting on one of the most important issues for the sector, price pressures, the report states: “The specialty paper industry exists because of the perception that added value products—usually of low production volume, could achieve higher margins than the commodity products which are subject to intense price competition. In this way, the industry hopes the higher added value products can compensate somewhat or fully, for thinner margins in mainstream products.

“In most cases this can be achieved at the start cycle, the novelty phase, when there is strong interest in an innovation. As time passes, the market may lose interest in the innovation, leaving the mill or converter with a need to introduce further innovations to stimulate the market. Competitors also review their product ranges regularly and may introduce a similar product, reducing the ‘share of the cake’ available to a mill or converter. Often the end result is price cutting to stimulate sales. These pressures need to be factored into the calculation when developing a specialty product.”

One way in which fully integrated mills and converters are able to spread risk, is to have distribution agreements with concessionaires who buy in bulk and hold the stock. Often such a distribution agreement helps keep out competitors.

Yet the report continues to say that, to further complicate the issue, there is a wide level of covert cooperation within the specialty paper supply industry, in spite of the overt competition.

Green-eyed monster

Of course, a feature on the opportunities and challenges for the paper sector would not be complete without a quick glance at the ‘eco’ issue. It has been proven that moving from print to electronic is not the environmental-lifeline it was once touted as being, and yet this perception still resonates with much of the public, and cannot be ignored.

Jarvis from Antalis comments: “Many a marketing professional has been challenged on the environmental impact of print, with sweeping statements that printed marketing materials are bad for the environment and digital is not. We’ve all seen the ‘Don’t Print, Save the Planet’ messages on email signatures.

O Factoid: Contrary to popular perception, displaying a page for three minutes on-screen consumes more energy than producing a printed version. O

“In recent years, it has actually been proved that displaying a page for three minutes on-screen consumes more energy than producing a printed version, and 20 emails per day over one year emits as much CO2 as driving a family car for 1,000km. Research like this is helping marketeers challenge clients on their print conscience, especially given the range of recycled and eco-responsible papers available.”

This range includes carbon neutral Conqueror Bamboo, part of Antalis’ Green Star System and the Arjowiggins Creative Papers series. Made from the fibres of the fast-growing sustainable grasses that give Conqueror Bamboo its name, the firm claims this paper still provides an exceptional print quality and a natural touch, as well as being able to support a range of finishes including foil blocking, embossing, varnishing, and sealing.

The Conqueror range from Antalis is not only 100 percent recycled paper, but also utilises completely new material—fast growing and renewable Bamboo

Reflecting on the unique power and aesthetic potentials of print, Jarvis concludes: “Advances in digital printing technology have, without doubt, widened the playing field for print. With so many print options available to marketeers, there is no end to the creative possibilities of print.

“It’s something which marketeers must embrace to bring messages, words and pictures to life in a way that electronic media simply cannot do.”

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