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POP23 encourages collaboration and creativity

This year’s Power of Print seminar included topics like AI, sustainability, packaging, and direct mail

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Organised by Two Sides and the BPIF, the event and seminars were sponsored by Canon while the evening drinks reception was sponsored by Fedrigoni Paper

Returning for its 13th year, Power of Print took place at Stationers’ Hall, London. The day was filled with in-depth talks, discussions, and speakers from all avenues of the industry which were able to inspire and help printers, material suppliers, marketing professionals, and packaging experts.

Speaking to Print Monthly about the event, partnership director at Two Sides, Ian Bates, said: “We’re at this fantastic location, the Stationers’, and interestingly last night we were here for the unveiling of Shakespeare’s Folio which is now 400 years old.

“It’s so relevant that we’re here all these years later in this time of digital technology, but ultimately, not much has changed; it’s all still about communication and there’s so much more we can do through technology, imagination, and collaboration.”

Ian Bates stressed the importance of collaboration and creativity in the print industry 

The day was introduced by Two Sides managing director, Jonathan Tame, who explained how the day would be split into topics around opportunities in print, while session two would focus more on current challenges like Net Zero and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

The first presentation come from Charles Jarrold, chief executive officer of the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF), who gave a brief overview of the current economical, political, and technological challenges facing printers.

The statistics showed that business confidence remained fragile going into 2024, as was the case at the start of 2023, however, turnover in the industry has seen a steady increase since the slump during the pandemic, with early 2023 numbers showing a return to levels seen in 2023.

Statistics from the BPIF Printing Outlook showed that the biggest concerns for print businesses were competitor pricing, energy costs, wage levels, and sales levels.

Jarrold’s summary was that the industry was seeing a new reality post-pandemic which is an ongoing shift in the role of some (but not all) print. 

Like many speakers Jarrold emphasised that digital and print must work together but also embrace the likes of data targeting and green technologies. Jarrold even did a test with AI platform Chat GBT to ask it about the future of the print industry, to which Chat GBT admitted it could not predict the future and suggested speaking to a professional in the industry.

The event was filled with various professionals who all benefitted from the live setting and the networking and brainstorming the day allowed.

One speaker, Mark Shayler from sustainable innovation studio, This is Ape, emphasised print’s responsibility to be bold and creative using music through the ages as a metaphor to how branding and trends can be reflected in physical media and print.

Shayler referenced musicians like The Beatles, David Bowie, Adele, and Lizzo as artists who have broken the mould and created an impact through their purpose, encouraging businesses and individuals to do the same in order to combat digital advertising (pop ups) and over saturation. 

Mark Shayler discussed the tactility of print versus digital solutions

Speaking about the businesses which presented, Bates said: “IKEA was a very interesting perspective from a global retailer, seeing the decisiveness to focus on paper and remove single-use plastics in the future.”

Bates stressed that he hopes more collaboration and support can come from retailers in the future for both the Power of Print and Two Sides’ initiatives like Love Paper. 

In her talk, packaging development leader, Maja Kjellberg from IKEA, said that the company had saved over €50m (£43.5m) a year by switching to paper pallets ten years ago, and has the ambitious aim to go plastic free by 2028.

Simon Heppner, founder of Net Zero Now, and Anna Papagrigoraki, sustainability director at the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), also focused on green initiatives and how businesses can prepare for government changes.

Papagrigoraki gave an overview of the changing EU environmental legislation and stressed the rules and regulations were likely to be mirrored in UK legislation. Papagrigoraki acknowledged that the new rules were still complex and in some cases untested or unclear, questioning how products like paper cups (which contain plastic coatings) may be a tricky product to categorise in future law changes.

Speakers like Henry Coutinho Mason, Ian Gibbs, and Mark Davies talked in detail about embracing data, research, and new AI technology to battle digital fatigue and propel print to consumers who trust and view digital communications less and less.

Matthew Faulker from event sponsor Canon, who spoke about the emotional element of print, said: “Print businesses need to be ready for clear conversations about their customers’ objectives, confident of what print can contribute and ready to prove its value.”

Concluding the day, Jonathan Tame detailed some of the work organiser Two Sides has undertaken in the past two years and also confirmed the seminar will return next year on Tuesday, November 5th.

With important information like the influence of EU legislation, getting started with Net Zero, and understanding and not being afraid of AI, Power of Print helped visitors feel empowered about and more prepared for the challenges in the industry far more than when they arrived.   

If you’d like to share news or opinions with us feel free to email at news@printmonthly.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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