Why print will never die

The power of print

Why print will never die

“Print is dead,” they said. “Print is no longer relevant in the digital age.” So why do brands continue to invest heavily in print media?

Last year, Hearst Magazines and Airbnb began producing Airbnbmag, a magazine which sets out to “provide readers with the most inspiring and most real-life travel stories, experiences and tips”. Around the same time, Liberty London launched an editorial magazine to promote its beauty offering.

Commenting on the brand’s decision to turn to print to drive loyalty, Liberty’s marketing and communications director Madeleine Macey told The Drum: “We believe print still has a value to our customer – that special moment when you can pour over great stories and maybe learn something you didn’t know before about a brand or a process.”

Liberty and Airbnb aren’t particularly novel in their approach to print either – retailers such as Waitrose and ASOS have stayed loyal to print for years, while Ikea recently revealed that it spends 70% of its total annual marketing budget on print.

Why don’t they just release digital editions of the magazines instead? Because digital simply can’t match the unique characteristics of ink on paper.

Print is more satisfying for recipient

While digital communication offers immediacy and efficiency, the experience can leave people feeling like something is missing. Print media engages more senses – not just sight, but touch and even smell – making it a more satisfying experience for the reader.

That might explain why booksellers like Waterstones have seen their fortunes go full circle in the last ten years. At the start of the decade, readers were switching over from physical books to Kindles at an alarming rate. But in the past few years, ebook sales have been falling, while the physical book market has been steadily growing. At the start of the year, Waterstones reported an 80% jump in annual profits.

Those who are passionate about print, like Service Graphics, see it as a craft, where distinctive features such as unique colours, foiling and textures deliver an engaging and immersive brand experience that can’t be matched by digital media. We work closely with our clients, helping them bring to life their designs exactly as they envisioned them.

Print can be trusted to deliver

Various studies show that print media is as trusted as it is tangible. According to a 2016 survey by MarketingSherpa, 82% of internet users trust print ads when making a purchase decision, more than any other medium. The highest ranking online format, search ads, came in at 61%, while only 25% of users trust pop-ups.

Meanwhile, in these ‘fake news’ times, printed news magazines are the most trusted news source, according to a 2017 study by Kantar. Nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents said they believe they can trust printed news magazines, compared to just 33% who agreed that social media “provides news I can trust.”

It’s not only readers who can trust print to deliver – so too can brands and publishers. With 23 walk-in branches across the UK, Service Graphics provides fast, secure and consistent printing services on time, on-demand and on-brand.

Our printers have an in-built colour management system/colour calibration, meaning that wherever you print your media, it will have the same high-quality finish, every time.

Print can complement digital

Print and digital are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps the most literal example of how the two mediums can interact is QR codes, which can quickly transport a reader from physical to digital in seconds. This allows brands to direct customers to digital content that is not possible in print – for example, videos and podcasts.

Then there are technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which give readers a whole new way to interact with postcards, business cards, catalogues etc. It also adds an element of fun, which might prompt the recipient to share their experience with others.

Meanwhile, more and more brands are incorporating radio-frequency identification (RFID) into print formats for numerous purposes. For example, we supply premium custom staff and guest RFID cards for a number of brands in the hospitality sector.

Print is constantly showing itself to be capable of adapting in these digital times. GDPR has created a further opportunity for the medium to once again underline its importance to brands, with the ICO ruling that marketers can continue to use print and mail without the explicit permissions needed for email and digital marketing.

I think it’s safe to say, print isn’t going anywhere fast.

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