A chill is in the air, the pumpkin-spiced lattes are back, and sipping hot chocolate burrowed under a fluffy throw is a welcome prospect. Yes, it seems autumn’s here, and with it, darker evenings and more excuses to read magazines in the comfort of our own homes (preferably in print, of course!)
I don’t want to be the first to say The Word, but chances are that your inbox has already been hit by the first wave of festive products and events. Mine certainly has: that elf (you know who I mean), winter lights, perfect gifts. Even if you’re yet to receive an onslaught relating to the big man in red, Halloween, still on the up in the UK, has probably made it into your ‘to be read’ list, boasting perky orange pumpkins, the supernatural, and furry bats with cute fangs.
Whether you love autumn or not, it remains for First Copy to suggest how you, as a commercial printer, might make the most of the coming season of gifting and thanksgiving. It may be a different autumn and winter this year, but we still believe there are opportunities for the print industry as we head into the last months of 2022.
Note: As a medium-sized family-run business ourselves, we are well aware of the prevailing economic conditions and uncertainty about rising energy costs. As such, we don’t want to make light of the challenges facing businesses this winter. Investment right now might not feel right for your business: that is for you to determine. Yet First Copy is here if you are looking for advice, whether you want a new press right now or not.
This blog has been turned into a video. You can watch it on our YouTube page.
It could be a good time to invest.
Businesses installing up-to-date technology could save money today and be ready to reap the benefits of that new technology when the economy rebounds. Upgrading your devices or solutions could increase your productivity, reduce wastage, enable you to offer a broader range of services or automate more of your prepress, for example.
Older presses may also be using more power than their newest counterparts; the total cost of ownership is worth assessing, especially in light of energy price increases.
What’s more, tax reliefs are currently in place for capital investments, so installing a new press in the next few months could bring you an associated corporation tax deduction of 130% of its value in the first year.
Stock is beginning to move more freely, and in many cases, you could have your chosen press installed in time to capitalise on the coming season. This month we have installed several Xerox Versant 4100s, 280s and another Iridesse. Our analysts would be delighted to install more!
Learn more about current tax reliefs.
A preference for print over digital.
Recent research by YouGov indicates that only 18% of GB readers prefer to read magazines online compared to flicking through ‘real-life’ ones. Furthermore, 58% of Britons said that they get more enjoyment from reading magazines in print than online.
Even among the youngest polled (aged 18-24), 32% said they enjoyed printed magazines more than online ones. This figure is not very different to the 39% who preferred online (the rest were in the middle!).
These figures feed into speculation (and, increasingly, data) that digitally-native Gen Z and Millennial generations are limiting screen time and even leaving behind some or all social media. Why? There are varying theories, but they include digital and social media fatigue, burnout, and a drive towards ‘unplugging’ for mental health reasons.
Separately, JICMAIL’s data for Q2 2022 showed that households are increasingly likely to retain direct mail, particularly when it comes to government, financial services and utility information. In the same set of results, JICMAIL notes that over five years, there has been a 60% increase in the proportion of mail that prompts advertiser website visits. It proposes that customers hold onto direct mail because it is a highly trustworthy and credible channel. Someone (perhaps you?) has to print the direct mail that comes to all of our doors.
Even as Gen Alpha enters the marketplace (yes, really, the eldest are almost teenagers), print is nowhere near dead.
Read a customer case study.
Changing spending habits.
The ONS published research last month suggesting 24 million people were already reducing energy use in their homes between March and June this year. The knock-on impact of increases in energy, food and fuel prices means that a significant number of people are spending less on luxuries and cutting back on non-essential journeys.
As I write this post, we don’t have full details of what the government will or won’t do to support families and businesses through the coming months, but there are opportunities even in the doom and gloom.
Research suggests that direct mail production actually increases in circumstances like these. There is also an argument to say that people spend less on non-essentials but still look for more affordable entertainment:
Books and magazines.
Visits to smaller attractions and relatively local retailers.
Learning new skills or taking up different hobbies.
Ordering online to cut fuel usage.
What’s more, people are looking to find gifting options that are simple but meaningful, showing they care without spending a fortune.
What do these things have in common? For one thing, print. Taken together, the bullets above could include the creation of activity sheets, information booklets and maps, local businesses needing flyers and packaging, ‘just because’ personalised greetings cards, knitting patterns, family tree charts, and self-published novels for a start.
To illustrate my point, here are a few of the printed things that I have kept in recent weeks:
An order of service for the Proclamation of the Accession in my home town
A personalised pension statement
GoGoDiscover stickers and sticker book
A certificate for resilience given to my eldest in school
The newsletter of a Historic Buildings Group
Again, someone had to print all of those things. An e-version is just not the same!
Learn more about the Xerox Versant 280.
The joy of browsing catalogues.
Just this morning, I noticed that the first comment underneath a profile picture change for a big brand was, ‘I wish they would bring the catalogues back!’ The comment had garnered hundreds of likes.
Yesterday, a store’s annual winter catalogue landed on my doormat. It was met with whoops of joy from my children, who have pawed over its contents ever since (just as I did with the Argos and Index catalogues 30 years ago!). I’m pretty sure my eldest slept with it under his pillow. Undoubtedly, we will buy something from that brand.
Not all catalogues have to be tomes. Even smaller brands can capitalise on this joy of browsing, especially at this time of year, working with local printers to produce gorgeous collaterals for their target audiences and increase sales of locally-made and sold products.
Learn more about Xerox iGen 5.
It’s stating the obvious, but Quarter Four is when most of us decide which festive cards to buy. Could you up your greetings card game this season? Or use similar principles for corporate print, party invitations, winter wedding stationery, window clings, tent cards or gift vouchers?
With snowy whites, glittering golds, shiny silvers, and a million metallic colours besides, perhaps this season, more than any other, is crying out for Beyond CMYK touches. A double hit of white makes a snowman leap out from a coloured media, and a low gloss clear sheen enhances your print quality even on more textured stocks.
With vivid colours available from PrimeLink, through Versant, to Iridesse and iGen, there is an option for every print room.
In our recent blog post, you can discover how haptic print – the art of print you can touch – can elevate your designs this winter.
Learn more about printing greetings cards.
Gifting and packaging.
If you’ve provided the cards, what about the gifts or the packaging they sit within? Our customers produce beautiful products on (or with the help of) their Xerox presses.
Here are a few that come to mind:
Practical but sumptuous sustainable notebooks
Bespoke labels, boxes, tags or wraps for businesses making soaps, candles, cakes, drinks or other gifts
Gift tickets for upcoming events
Wine tasting notes
Vouchers for spa treatments
Share your creations on your social media channels and tag us in. You’ll find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and even TikTok! I would love to share your creations and bring them to a wider audience.
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A drive for personalisation.
Digital print has opened up new ways to personalise gifts, marketing, catalogues and transactional material in recent years, allowing printers to hone in on the specific preferences of people at the other end of the messaging.
On his last birthday, I got my brother a pamper hamper for his dog, so you’re not even limited to personalising for humans!
Probably the most obvious example as we approach autumn and winter is personalised greetings cards and gifts. Digital print allows you to personalise the card, the champagne and the note with the flowers, all while making it simple for your customer to order. Services like XMPie open up additional opportunities for simple personalisation processes and online storefronts for easy ordering.
You could create bespoke personal stationery, baby books, photo albums, calendars and more. Personalisation can also make secure and bar-coded products, especially when paired with clear and fluorescent inks.
Learn more about the Xerox Iridesse.
Where to go next…
Find out what some of our customers are doing by visiting our Case Studies section. There have been several new entries this past few weeks, and more are to come. If you’d like to feature, please get in touch with us.
If you would like to talk to us about your options for the final quarter of 2022, we’re ready to help you, whether that means making the most of your existing equipment, or finding your perfect press, managed services and finishing.
Our production specialists would love to talk to you about installing before December and how you can make the most of current government tax reliefs in time for Father Christmas.
(…oh, so close…!)
Liz Budd, First Copy