Paper. Year to year, how much does it really change? The answer, it turns out, is a lot. Products wax and wane in popularity, green initiatives expand and evolve, and suppliers continue offering stronger and more sophisticated sales tools. There's a lot of new in the world of paper, and most of it seems to be in the print distributor's favor.
AN OLD PRODUCT ON A NEW RISE
The Internet and culture's overall shift toward electronic documentation has long been held as a detriment to print, but for some paper products, it's actually proving to be a boon. Bart Robinson, vice president of marketing for Mohawk, Cohoes, N.Y., explained how technology is driving interest for one of the company's products.
"We have a surface treatment on our [HP] Indigo products called i-tone, a surface treatment that enhances the printing through the HP indigo," he said. "We are selling more and more of that product. We grew that product over 50 percent last year, and this on a paper that's been around for 50 years," he continued. "What it is, it's finding new places [in] a home, whether it's the online photo-products that are now using super-fine or the online book players are using super-fine. So it's being used in that [new] digital space, even though it's being seen as an old, historic brand."
A NEW SALES TOOL FOR AN OLD PROBLEM
While some paper products are benefiting from new cultural developments, others still thrive from old paradigms that aren't going away anytime soon. Document fraud is an unfortunate mainstay in the paper world, but also one that continues to drive sales and innovation.
Jeffrey B. Luehring, segment leader for carbonless rolls and security with Appvion, Appleton, Wis., described a new sales tool the company is designing to help distributors sell print security. "Many sales tools from paper companies tend to be swatch books and sheets of paper, but what we've found is that [distributors] are actually selling a finished document that contains print and paper to an end-user, so our new selling tools are much more document-focused," he said. "We're pointing out the features and benefits of security paper to deter fraud, and we're pointing out the features and benefits of what a printer can print on or apply as well," he said. "It's to focus much more on the final item that a distributor is selling, versus trying to have a distributor use some paper swatch books or sheets of paper to try to articulate to an end-user what that can do for him or her to deter fraud."