19 . 02 . 24

A brochure or catalogue can significantly increase consumers' buying decisions

Words by: Print Power
We've heard from a publisher, a paper manufacturer, a printer and an advertising professional about what to expect from 2024. Technology is a key ingredient of the print media future. Technology is also the driving force for print equipment makers. From the traditional press makers to the digital equipment makers, innovation is at the basis of new applications. The digital press has become a major factor in the printing world with a high-value output. We spoke with Markus Weiss, General Manager EMEA at HP Industrial Print about 2024 and print and digital opportunities.

Ulbe Jelluma: We live in uncertain times with political, economic, technological and climate changes. What will be the challenges and opportunities in your industry?

Markus Weiss: The print industry faces significant challenges from the need to adapt to the ever-changing needs and behaviours of the modern consumer. As more people consume information digitally, print needs to work harder and smarter to succeed. People are exposed to thousands of digital messages every day, however, the majority of these are not relevant to the individual. 

Inbox overload is also making email a less relevant tool for marketers. This presents print with an opportunity to break through the noise. 

Printing digitally not only enables shorter runs but printed marketing can be targeted to the specific behaviours of each individual, resulting in a greater return on investment. 

UJ: The most important themes are without a doubt AI and sustainability. How does that impact your industry and what kind of opportunities does that offer?

MW: The impact of AI and the need to market sustainably are two huge factors affecting the print industry. Both represent a huge opportunity for digital print. 

AI will become an ever-increasing partner for marketing departments enabling them to increase the effectiveness of every campaign. Coupled with the benefits print delivers to break through the over-crowded digital channels, digital print will become more relevant than ever before. 

Research tells us that 70 per cent of printers already source sustainable materials which is a big step towards more sustainable products. More importantly, slightly more than one-fifth of them plan to commit to being Carbon Neutral within the next 5 years. Despite this figure, we will need to speed up that process. 

Another challenge the print industry faces regarding sustainability is waste. Traditional print methods require long runs where waste is not only created in setup processes but also when much of what is produced is simply not used and is trashed. 

Print's biggest sustainable challenge comes in the form of packaging and the growing demand for eco-friendly products. HP’s digital labels and packaging portfolio is again enabling brands to now produce shorter runs of what consumers need, when they need it, using sustainable materials, reducing waste and all using environmentally friendly processes. 

As a company, HP will operate by next year for 100% on renewable energy. And we have programmes in place to reuse equipment parts and waste management of consumables. 


Markus Weiss, HP, General Manager EMEA Industrial Print

UJ: We have seen a major shift in media consumption behaviour during the last 15 years. How does that impact the applications printed on your equipment?

MW: As mentioned earlier, over the past 15 years we have seen marketing departments shift to digital channels as a means of communicating with their customers. Over time, this market has become saturated. To cut through the noise, people are once again turning to print to gain the attention of consumers. Printing digitally using HP Industrial print technology, also enables the communication to be personalised to the desires of the individual consumer resulting in greater return on marketing investment. 

The additional benefit of printing digitally is that it can enable marketing departments to even track campaigns down to the individual. Something that traditional print processes do not allow. We’ve seen that this printing segment is outpacing the market with a six times growth. 

We’re also expecting the direct mailing and marketing collateral segment to further grow in the next years. And this growth is especially strong in value. Digital printing creates value for printers.

In truth, consumer behaviour will continue to evolve, and new channels will appear. The secret for print to play its part is to complement, not to compete with other communication channels. 

UJ: What will be the driving force for further growth of the use of digital printing media (by end clients)? And what do you see as the major barrier among these end-clients?

MW: There have been many printed products where digital competition fell short of delivering the same value. Books are the obvious example where physical book sales continue to grow. The printed book market continues to grow with e-books stagnating with about 15% of total book sales. These industries are also seeing the power of digital print generating an 8 times higher value. Also here we notice the growth of digitally printed books offering publishers more flexibility to cope with the difficult task of predicting future sales and therefore reducing the number of unsold copies.

Printing vast quantities of self-published books is now a thing of the past as fast turnaround times and no minimum order quantities enable books to be produced and shipped to order. I would not say barrier, but the opportunity this gives digital print is people’s desire to have everything the next day. Just think of that book you want to offer as a present or that photo book of your last trip. If a non-digitally printed item is out of stock, consumers will move on and buy something else. Printing digitally means you will never be out of stock again. 

"There have been many printed products where digital competition fell short of delivering the same value"
Markus Weiss
General Manager Industrial Print / HP

UJ: Some voices in the industry say that the future of print media, such as magazines, catalogues, brochures and mailings, is in the high-quality segment featuring personalisation, special papers, more enrichment techniques and quality content. What is your perspective on this high-end positioning?

MW: Where print has remained relevant, its value has increased. Instead of producing huge quantities at a lower unit cost with the majority not being either relevant or utilised, digitally printed magazines, catalogues and mailers are now produced in shorter runs, but often to a far higher quality. This in turn results in higher engagement from consumers.

UJ: The printing industry increasingly refers to programmatic print, the use of online consumer behaviour to trigger sending, for example, a postcard. Could this be a growth area in 2024?

MW: Our customers at HP have been utilising programmatic print successfully for many years. Many of our PSPs have customers who ship postcards, catalogues and vouchers following a site visit or email read receipt. Adding AI to the mix will likely enable even greater targeting. This will also be relevant no matter the size of the market, our portfolio of products will enable very long runs of mail sorted, personalised mailings to runs of one for high-value products. 

UJ: What role do you see for digitally printed magazines, catalogues or brochures in the next 5 years?

MW: The days of long-run magazine and catalogue printing have gone. The desire for these printed products remains, but either the product has become targeted to the individual consumer, or where print is required to enhance the consumer journey. 

Despite common belief, research shows that for printed direct mail is most appreciated vs digital by all generations, from boomers to GenZ.

Digital channels are now often the first signal of intent, but a mailing, printed brochure or catalogue can significantly increase the buyer's decisions from these different generations. QR codes and NFC provide direct links to brands’ (e-commerce) sites.  

Print will continue to bring value and is still seen as the most trusted method of communication.