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The Educated Consumer

(April 2013) posted on Tue Apr 09, 2013

When judging what customers want, including digital vs. hardcopy print, screen printing vs. digital, paper products vs. non-paper choices, printed words vs. digital images, who should choose?


By Gail Flower

Many printed pieces of information have gone from print to electronic media, whether we like getting information that way or not. At the same time, many of the accepted substrates, inks, and curing used in print media are now changing as well.

In a way, this is enrichment—more information in a reusable, greener format. For instance, Screen Printing distributes an electronic newsletter every other week that provides articles, timely news, new products, and related information. It comes via e-mail to those in the trade without cost, just by signing up at www.screenweb.com. It’s designed for reading top to bottom stories by scrolling vertically, then reading from left to right, in the usual fashion.

On the other hand, readers seem to be divided about getting the regular magazine digitally rather than in hardcopy. Some appreciate saving the trees and getting information from many magazines without having to store each physically. A magazine that’s designed to fit a vertical format doesn’t fit its whole page in the horizontal screen of notebook computers, not to mention smart phones. Therefore, Screen Printing comes both ways, hardcopy or digitally; you choose.

Recently, the Printing Industries of America (PIA) urged support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed paper and paper-based packaging promotion, Research and Information Order. This program, advocated by the paper industry and the American Forest & Paper Association would be a new, government-approved commodities check-off program funded by requiring a small assessment on the nation’s largest paper producers and importers.

The goal of the program would be to market and promote segments of the paper industry by spotlighting the importance of paper materials and the industry’s sustainability record. If the program were to meet with approval, it would promote segments of print on paper while stemming decline in demand for other areas of print.

According to Lisbeth Lyons, VP of government affairs for PIA, “We are pleased to support our allies in the paper industry by encouraging the USDA to approve a formal marketing check-off effort.”

Knowledge provides power; therefore, bringing this news into the public segment gives readers and members of the PIA more control over what’s happening. However, in many instances, the consumer or user should be the ultimate decision maker.

Trade shows also reflect how the industry is changing. SGIA began as a screen-printing association, but it now includes more digital and functional electronics to reflect an ever-changing marketplace.

Even the European Sign Expo, the dedicated signage event, has co-located with FESPA 2013 at ExCeL London from June 25-27. Why? Together, the co-located events will occupy 35000 square meters, and supporters, such as BroadSign (provider of software for digital signage networks) have signed on as Platinum Sponsors of the European Sign Expo to show how digital signage can be integrated with printed graphics to offer effective communication, branding, and marketing solutions for brand owners. This show now has a broadened appeal.

“When we launched European Sign Expo in mid-December, we set out to enhance the overall value of FESPA for visitors from the signmaking community, to showcase the full spectrum of non-print signage technologies, including digital signage,” says Neil Felton, managing director of European Sign Expo.

Other upcoming events for FESPA also show a broadening effect, both with location and topic: FESPA Brazil 2013 March 13-16, São Paulo; FESPA 2013, June 25-29, London; FESPA Fabric 2013, June 25-29, London; and FESPA Mexico, August 15-17, Mexico City.

When judging what customers want, including digital vs. hardcopy print, screen printing vs. digital, paper products vs. non-paper choices, printed words vs. digital images, who should choose? I contend that an educated user always ultimately makes the choice. Now how do we provide that information to the user?
 


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