Since the Mesopotamians employed round seals for pushing impressions into clay tablets, printing has always been an exercise in mass production. However, thanks to technology today, mass production has now become an exercise in mass customisation. As the last few years have shown, the growth of personalisation in commercial print is seemingly unstoppable.
Mass customisation – or personalisation – is a marketing and manufacturing tool, enabled by the rise of digital print and 3D print technologies. The growing sophistication of this print technology is unlocking a host of benefits for consumers and businesses alike, combining the flexibility and individuality of a ‘custom-made’ product with the low-cost units associated with mass production.
Where once, a staple of mass production was the Ford Model-T, today a staple of mass-customisation could include anything from the laser-engraved backs of iPods, to the cheerfully printed T-Shirts of Cafepress, with icons and text of the consumer’s choosing. Other examples include phone cases in every design imaginable, custom paint jobs for anything from cars to kitchen cabinets and credit cards with images of your family printed on them. This shift has not been accidental, but a logical extension of consumer desires. Personalised marketing, above generic marketing collateral, is capable of delivering 31% greater profits1 and boosting customer loyalty to over 40%2.
So why do these trends make investment into digital print technologies so crucial for any business?
First of all, any business benefits from saving time. With mass customisation comes smaller production runs. The obvious benefit of digital print is that PSPs need only clear the platform, and start printing the next item. With the enormous range of substrates that it is possible to print on, personalisation is now far bigger – and better - than simple direct mail campaigns.
Secondly, digital print allows for scalability. As the size of production runs go down, PSPs need machines that are cost-effective. For example, many mass-customisable runs today can be as little as a few hundreds or thousands units per batch and increasingly one-off productions as well. Naturally this is also a boon for smaller print businesses who can compete with larger competitors without huge upfront costs.
Finally, personalisation requires efficiency. For PSPs that are passionate about personalisation, both workflow and devices are of vital importance. The right workflow – from design to production scheduling – and the right device will facilitate personalisation smoothly and ensure that neither quality nor speed is compromised. . Today’s technology is not just beneficial for consumers but holds enormous opportunity for print businesses as well. It is important for PSPs to capitalise on this by assessing their future needs and installing solutions that will serve them now and continue to serve them as their business grows.
Whether digital or physical, businesses that personalise their products or content have higher conversion rates and more customer engagement3. As marketing and printing continue to converge, PSPs will need to do more than offer simple print production and begin to branch into more specialised and targeted services. With prints vital role as a driver of response becoming more and more recognised, the time to invest in the new wave of personalisation is now.
1 From innovation to implementation: emerging print for packaging technologies and how to apply them, Smithers Pira, 2016-2020
2 From innovation to implementation: emerging print for packaging technologies and how to apply them, Smithers Pira, 2016-2020
3 https://crimtan.com/uncategorized/personalisation-drives-engagement-and-conversions/ September 2015