The Power of Print: 2019 Edition

Print has changed, faced challenges, and yes, in some instances been replaced by a real-time digital experience. But amongst all of today’s clicks, taps, swipes and likes, the power of print prevails. Of course we’re going to say this you might be thinking. (SJC was founded on print. Literally. In 1956, two years after immigrating to Canada, our founder Gaetano Gagliano bought a small handheld letterpress and started printing wedding invitations and birth announcements in the basement of his family home.)

We could point to our recent investments in digital print (an industry expected to grow in 2019) or to our most recent client examples of print as part of full-sensory, multi-channel campaigns. Instead, we will turn to  examples and evidence from around the world that highlight how print is used, needed and appreciated by consumers.

So here we go. Five examples of print’s relevance (and prevalence) in 2019.

1. We’re on the cusp of print’s personalization revolution.

Tailored printed messages are increasingly an effective way to cut through the digital clutter amongst all ages. HP predicts that the personalized gift marketing industry is expected to reach $31 billion by 2021; an increase of 55 per cent over 2016. Personalized print opportunities range from direct mail and packaging (Vaseline U.K. offers your own personalized tin!) to promotional items and home decor items such as wallpaper. You can read more here.

2. Physical books are thriving.

According to recent U.K data shared by Two Sides, ebook sales are plummeting and the book market is on the rise. In the U.S., Quartz reports that the number of independent bookstores is growing while sales of physical books have increased every year since 2013. And in Canada,  SJC’s Quill & Quire reported on another billion-dollar year in 2018 for the book industry – on par with 2017 figures. While in 2012 ebook sales were skyrocketing in Canada, 2018 saw a decrease in sales from 2017.

3. Consumers want to receive their bills and statements in their mailbox – not their inbox.

Keep Me Posted (KMP) is a global advocacy campaign working for the right of every consumer to choose, free of charge, how they receive important information from their service providers – on paper or electronically.  Millions of North American consumers want to receive bills and statements on paper due to reasons such as lack of internet access, digital abilities, and growing security concerns with online fraud. Based on consumer demand (90 per cent of people say they would like to have the right to choose), KMP is making strides, continuing to grow its partnerships with consumer groups both in the U.S and Canada. You can read the February 2019 press release here, or have your say at Keep me Posted North America.

4. Consumers remain loyal to print magazines.

In our recent blog post, we reported on Vividata’s new data that the majority of Canadian magazine brand audiences are reading exclusively in print.  You can also check out this related read from FIPP: It’s nearly 2020 and print publishing still matters: How print and digital can build better subscriber experiences.

5. Print newsletters are making a comeback – and offer a way to stand out.

In its round-up of 2019 trends marketers should pay attention to, Forbes cites the example of a company that (yes, in our age of MailChimp and Hubspot), tracked down the physical addresses for its clients and mailed them a print newsletter. The campaign was apparently very successful.  In our ever-digital world, print now boasts the benefits of creativity and nonconformity. Here is an example of a  Southern California group of hospitals that launched a print-only publication mailed directly to employees’ homes. It too proved successful, with recipients saying it felt special to receive it at home.

In many areas of our lives, we are turning (back) to print because it’s tactile, eye-catching, preservable, practical, trustworthy and experiential. Integrating with digital, print can also provide a (refreshing, surprising) break from digital.

And as BuzzFeed proved with its one-off magazine hand-distributed in New York City this week, print can even replicate digital (gifs and all). Print is already making quite the impression this year, and brands should take note.