Insights from Ricoh’s first European Commercial Print Council

User groups … I’ve done a few in the last 30 years.

Big ones and small ones, graphic arts ones and other ones, national and international ones.

So I was pleased to organise Ricoh Europe’s first Commercial Print Council.Which took place in the Ricoh offices in Staines on Thames (near Heathrow) UK, last month, when 15 clients gathered, representing eight companies from six countries.

2015-11-RCPC_Group Picture

Attendees of the first Ricoh Commercial Print Council Nov 2015

Not only was there close interaction with Ricoh on the technical product level, but there were also three external speakers, each with their own specific topics.

Ralf Schlözer from Infotrends, the analyst company, looked into his famous crystal ball to give insights into opportunities for digital print in the commercial print market.

Print technologies are becoming more diversified: but not all technologies will be in reach for every printer.

His conclusions were:

  • Printing is very much alive
  • Digital colour print remains on the growth path with inkjet leading the charge
  • But one should consider the whole print production chain; including the impact of the Cloud on software solutions
  • Media integration is progressing: prepare for an omni channel view rather than simply a cross channel view
  • Print technologies are becoming more diversified: but not all technologies will be in reach for every printer. Meaning that new businesses will emerge and they’ll use ‘print’ as a way to manufacture things (3D, textiles, etc…)
  • Number one priority for marketeers is increasing the customer experience, lowering costs is only second

Enrique Parilla from digital publishing company Lantia gave a privileged view on how he established his company as a publisher-printer-software developer, handling the publishing business in a completely different way from how traditional publishing companies do.

That’s very much the story of today’s graphic arts: printing companies are not in the business of selling print, they’re in the business of selling impactful and meaningful communication!

He used the following interesting analogy: in 19th century America, companies selling ice for refrigeration were big business. But … they didn’t realise in which business they were in. They thought they were in the business of selling ice … when it was actually refrigeration they were selling.  So when the electrical refrigerator was invented, it wiped away the ice business. That’s very much the story of today’s graphic arts: printing companies are not in the business of selling print, they’re in the business of selling impactful and meaningful communication! In trade book publishing for instance, publishers are not selling books but stories!

Next time you drink your G&T on the rocks, do ask yourself: ‘in which business you really are’?

Ulbe Jelluma works for Frysk, a B2B advertising agency, specialising in serving international clients (in the graphics, industrial, financial, pharmaceutical, telecom and automotive industries). He started with an attention grabbing statement: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder … And it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye!’

…agencies today consider print as an application in the total communication mix

Ulbe explained how agencies today consider print as an application in the total communication mix. He highlighted some new print applications all driven by the generation of emotions in using print. He also showed some examples of ‘different devices, same content’ or how the advertising industry is using an omnichannel approach to push its message.

Another example was of ‘existing content, different application’ with books that are printed in Brazil for the public transport authorities, serving as a ticket and a planner at the same time as being a reading book. Or what to think about a plasticised newspaper that can act as an umbrella, in a country such as Ecuador ‘where it rains a lot’?

All creative examples of how print is being used in many new and different ways.

So Ricoh Europe’s first Commercial Print Customer Council featured a series of diverse speakers with a broad spectrum of experiences, insights and predictions to share. For me, though, there was a common thread.

It was the sheer resilience of print as many different players in different markets explore its unique characteristics to keep it as relevant now as ever.

Erwin Busselot Commercial Print Solutions Director Ricoh Europe

Erwin Busselot Commercial Print Solutions Director Ricoh Europe