At first glance, the print industry and the music industry don't have much in common. One primarily deals in assorted paper products. The other deals in Justin Bieber. Draw up a Venn diagram for that, and it would be two freestanding circles separated by three page-lengths of empty space.
But a closer look reveals a striking similarity. When the recession hit, the music industry realized that the compact disc, its longtime standard format, was no longer viable on its own. They were expensive to produce, allowed distributors little flexibility and offered virtually nothing in the way of personalized touches for consumers. To keep up with shifting market demands, the industry had to make a radical change—so it went digital.
Sound familiar? It should; it's the same story that played out in the print world, only with conventional print methods instead of compact discs. And now? Digital is in, and it's benefitted the print industry during the recession.
Data Papers, a forms printer since 1969, began offering short-run digital print in 2009, and has gradually been adding more digital print options to keep up with the ever-shifting marketplace. "We have not seen a decline in demand for digital print during these difficult economic times," said Jerry Wertz, president and CEO of the Muncy, Pennsylvania-based company. "Actually, we have seen nice growth in our digital sales, as many customers are choosing shorter, more personalized marketing campaigns with personalized URLs (PURLs) or video rather than mass direct mail."
Paul Edwards, CDC, president of FormStore Incorporated, Fenton, Mo., also believes that the personalization trend will continue to give digital print an edge. "Integrated marketing programs combining PURLs, personalized QR codes, e-mail, variable digital print (VDP) microsites, landing pages and campaign dashboards will drive growth in the digital print market this year," Edwards said. "Personalization on digital direct mail can lead to increased response rates and differentiate the marketplace," he added.