Print 4.0: Opportunities during the Corona Crisis

“Print is dying out!” I’m sure you’ve heard it before. This predominant opinion has been predicted for years as online publications are faster more up-to-date and cheaper to produce and will soon completely displace print from the market. However the time of death for print has been pushed further and further into the future for years, but why? What is the current state of the print industry in the Corona crisis? Who are the losers and winners in the printing industry? We would like to answer these questions in today’s blog post.

Digital media increasingly in focus – but not without print!

Due to the changed user behavior and the increased popularity of digital media, there is a strong online spread of messages like “Print is dead” or “The future is only digital!”. Online ads, subscriptions, newsletters, SEO and SEA are being used more and more specifically in marketing. It is clear that digitalization has significantly changed our understanding of advertising and communication. Social media and other technologies in particular enable us to communicate in numerous ways to keep ourselves up-to-date on a daily basis. However, this change does not mean that print is dying out, but rather that it is making new demands on print media that must be mastered in the future. After all according to a representative survey by Statista in 2018, almost 60% of German citizens are convinced that print media will still be relevant in 10 years time. Ultimately online media cannot completely replace a printed medium, as many people need a haptic message. They therefore resort to printed media. This sensuality, is completely lost in the Internet. The attention to detail that a high-quality magazine, book or book represents cannot be depicted online. That is why readers also take much more time for analogue media than for digital contributions, for example. Print publications are therefore ideally suited as image carriers for companies and round off the digital marketing mix.

The mix does it! – Analogue and digital media

Your corporate design is the basis for successful corporate communication. Online and print must therefore form a harmonious overall picture and adapt to the constant changes of the digital age. According to a survey conducted by ECC Cologne, around 40% of those surveyed see print media as being much more networked and target group-oriented in the future. The trend in the print industry is towards print media being designed more personalized and creatively. In combination with digital media this leads to a greater reach. The further diversification of the range of special interest titles, which are tailored to the needs of a smaller target group offers promising approaches for print publications. This is also the reason why numerous new and successful print titles have been launched recently, some of which have even evolved from online publications. According to the Bundesverband Druck und Medien e. V. (German Printing and Media Industries Federation) print is currently growing despite the large number of digital media. On average companies spend 3.5 billion euros per year on print products and around ⅔ of advertising is printed! This is actually 10% more than in 2016.

A bright future for the printing industry?

According to a recent study by the EU Commission print is currently still the number one medium, even though a Europe-wide downward trend can be observed in the entire industry. This is due to overcapacities and price competition in the print industry, which are linked to consumers’ changing media usage. The weakened demand for print products is also having an increasingly negative effect on the employment situation. 

With regard to the distribution of the advertising budget the researchers forecast stagnating to slightly growing markets for print, even though print products are currently still the strongest advertising medium with a market share of almost 50 percent. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that the share of electronic advertising will more than double in the coming years so a decline in the print market share can be expected.

Effects of the Corona crisis – the losers

There is no question that the corona pandemic has consequences for the printing industry. Canceled events, closed shops and pubs caused daily newspapers, advertising journals and city magazines to lose advertising revenues. The extreme measures taken by the government mean that some titles already have to fight for survival. There has been a particularly sharp drop in advertising by local retailers of large food discounters. Overall, the decline in advertising since the beginning of the Corona crisis has been between 40 % and 90 %, depending on the title. Due to the need for quick solutions and the almost minute-by-minute change in times of crisis, print media cannot currently keep up with online media. This means that publishers in particular are the current losers in the corona crisis, as many ad spaces will no longer be allocated even after the situation has recovered.

Winners of the Corona Pandemic – Who is it?

The current situation poses new challenges for the printing and media industry. In view of both technological and demographic change, new job profiles are needed such as media technologist. Challenges for the printing industry are the reduction of production times, workflow automation and the simultaneous production of print and online editions. New skills and competencies are therefore needed. Publishers must therefore develop into content providers. In contrast more and more print service providers are focusing on digital printing, especially variable, personalized short runs. With its customized print products, digital printing allows a very fast reaction to current developments. This means that digital printing specialists with a focus on print on demand and/or mass customization are the main winners. Thanks to cost-effective printing, customization and printing on demand, individualized one-off items such as a personalized children’s book were in high demand, especially at lockdown times. We, Schätzl print emotion, can draw a positive business outcome from the Corona pandemic, as we were able to experience a second peak at that time. In these difficult times we were able to put a smile on our customers’ faces through their individual print product and enabled a little bit of habit!.

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