It is no secret that the print industry is experiencing strong headwinds, especially in consumer segments. The competitive landscape is changing due to the continuing digital revolution, the influence of the millennial demographic, and the ongoing push towards a paperless world. All of these factors intertwine and result in a generation without natural printing habits. Although these challenges are tough, they are also the catalyst for promoting innovation and calling for change. Manufacturers are forced to assess these challenges and respond by creating new and innovative ways of reaching customers, inspiring printing habits, and taking bolder risks with new products.


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#love #instagood #tbt #selfie

The digital revolution is evolving within our culture and affecting how information travels everyday. The definition of the digital revolution is known as “the advancement of technology from analog electronic and mechanical devices to the digital technology that is available today.” With the initial industrial revolution, productivity increased through the mass production of goods. With the digital revolution, productivity hinges on the mass transfer of data and information. Motorola introduced the first mobile phone in 1983, the internet as we know it  was released to the public in 1992, by 1999 nearly every country had some form of connection to the internet, and by 2015 tablets and smartphones exceeded personal computers in internet usage. With all of the information necessary to conduct life nestled in your back pocket and available instantly, the need to print and store important documents in that large brown filing cabinet at home is slowly, if not already, becoming obsolete. Concert tickets? Scan my smartphone. Travel itinerary? Scan. Proof of vehicle insurance? “I’m sorry officer, give me one minute and I can pull it up on my phone for you.” The digital revolution is accelerating even faster in the medical industry where electronic health records (EHR) are the standard in many medical environments. Health care practitioners and hospitals receive lofty incentives administered from federal resources for the implementation and adoption of EHR’s. Patients are receiving better care through the remote and instant access of their records, insurance payments happen in real time, and patient engagement is increasing. The digital world is among us and it is shaping who we are and how we interact with the material world. With all of this information available instantly with one single swipe, it is further perpetuating a culture wrapped around instant gratification.

Profiles in Health IT state "I'll never go back to paper records"

Motorola Started It

One of the main contributing factors to the decrease in print is the millennial demographic. Not only are their habits evolving trends, but the demographic as a whole is changing the way manufacturers and businesses reach out to their customers in staggering ways. The millennial is commonly defined as any individual currently between the age of 18 and 34, meaning they were born anytime after 1983, or the same year as the invention of the smartphone and the beginning of the digital revolution. As a whole, this demographic is projected to spend more than $200 billion annually and $10 trillion throughout their lifetime, giving them some respectable weight to throw around.  According to a report from Pew Research Center, 74% of adults that interact with the internet in some form also interact with a social media platform. It is due to this growing connection with technology that the millennial demographic is inherently more receptive and demanding of marketing materials that are easily digestible on smart devices and that feature creative and engaging content. To benefit from this, print manufacturers need to cultivate marketing and advertising campaigns that directly address realistic needs of millennials and in turn teach a generation raised on technology the value of printed output.

Although the millennial generation has lost the desire to share scrapbooks and create physical photo albums, there is still a strong desire to capture memories in photographs and share them instantly among peers. The two oldest and most popular avenues for sharing photos today are Instagram and Facebook. As of December 2016, Instagram has a reported 500 million active monthly users with an average of 52 million new photos uploaded to the platform daily.  As of February 2017, Facebook has a reported 1.86 billion active monthly users with 350 million new photos uploaded each day. That is a lot of content locked in a digital format that holds the potential to be printed and shared. If only millennials could be inspired to unleash those images from their phones…

The Sprocket that Re-Created the Wheel

End cap of the Sprocket Photo Printer

Enter stage left: instant photo technology. Edwin Land introduced the first instant photo film to the world in 1948 and by 1977 the instant gratification phenomenon was in full swing and the Polaroid OneStep became the best-selling instant (or conventional) camera in the US. A mere thirty-one years later and zero-ink, or ZINK, instant photo paper was born! Polaroid conceived the first instant photo printer compatible with ZINK paper by 2008. The instant film and ZINK technology fits wonderfully into our growing lifestyle that is progessively intertwined with our instant gratification culture. Since 2008 there have been several options on the market designed to fit into the insta-information age. One great example of a printer manufacturer blending new school outreach tactics with old school marketing is HP with its Sprocket Mobile Photo Printer. As noted in its most recent financials, HP’s mobile printer is noted as being partly responsible for the year-over-year 6% increase of the vendor’s total imaging solutions hardware revenue growth. As noted in the “Retail Advertising” and “Promotions” tabs of the gap intelligence Personal & SOHO SFPs Pricing & Promotions Report, HP has gained this success without leveraging typical advertising avenues. Instead the vendor has reached the millennial generation through successful instagram engagement and a strong and active YouTube channel. The vendor has left behind traditional means of marketing and instead has created experiential campaigns (#ReinventMemories, #HoldMyHeart) that promote the value of the brand over promotional activity. Through its pairing with celebrity/violinist, Lindsey Stirling, the vendor has most recently created a music video around the Sprocket Mobile Photo Printer, directly creating awareness for the printing industry and generating excitement around the device in a non-traditional form of marketing.

Another strong example of experiential marketing is FujiFilm’s Instax Photo Camera. Despite the company’s financial reports of its overall revenue declining by 8% in the most recent quarter, its imaging solutions sales increased by 3.7% which was directly attributed to the strong sales of its instant photo system. The Instax photo camera grabs the attention of the millennial demographic through its #MyInstax experiential campaign. FujiFilm’s Instagram utilizes and republishes photographs taken by customers and that upload their memories under the hashtag #MyInstax. This strategy not only drives consumers to purchase the device’s associated supplies in an effort to participate, but it also drives awareness among its users, and increases commitment to the brand. According to Factory360,a stunning 98% of millennials reported feeling more inclined to purchase a product after participating in an experiential campaign.

Instagram post example of #myinstax experiential marketing


Not only is technology changing information exchange and marketing avenues, but the working environment is changing as well. The term “paperless world” is synonymous with “going-green” and “increasing efficiency”. Numerous corporations are declaring their commitments to decrease their carbon footprints. Most contracts are signed, scanned, and sent digitally. Have you ever electronically signed an important document? I know I have, and the font used for the signature has really improved over the last couple of years. Did your daily news headlines actually come hot off the press this morning? I bet it was more hot and fast to your inbox. Marketing professionals will tell you that a handwritten thank you note sent in the mail really goes “above and beyond” in terms of outreach. A more tactical approach to the paperless world is that it diminishes important resources in our environment. According to NACHA, the electronic payment association, by eliminating paper bills, payments, and statements alone, the average household would save 6.6 pounds of paper each year and avoid the release of 171 pounds of greenhouse gases. By switching 20% of US households to electronic payments, the collective impact would be equivalent to planting 8.7 million tree seedlings and allowing them to grow for 10 years. Decreasing paper consumption is directly correlated to decreasing the carbon footprint. Everyone has seen the signature at the bottom of a colleague’s e-mail that reads “think before printing this email”. It goes without saying that this is a huge challenge for print manufacturers. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the “green-washing” that envelopes the print and paper industry, which leads to investigations that uncover numerous false claims. With that, where printing is declining, the storage of information is still key and those manufacturers that are capable of repurposing their devices from printing machines to cloud-based secured storage networks will find balance in our digital ecosystem.

Follow for a Follow?

Technology creates many positive and negative influences on our culture. The digital revolution has created a generation of digital natives with an instant-addiction that have no memory of life without the internet. Technology has shaped many beliefs and values within our culture. In fact, according to Deloitte, 84% of millennials consider it their duty to make the world a better place through the dissemination of information through such avenues as social media platforms and dedicated lifestyle choices.  Due to this need, marketing professionals need to create adaptive campaigns that appeal to these social causes and alternative lifestyles. The millennial generation is savvy and wants to feel informed and involved not just marketed at. They appreciate short and sweet in the realm of marketing and prefer easy to consume video footage over reading. Proper mobile formatting is the go-to in order to successfully reach the millenial demographic. What do HP and FujiFilm have in common that is driving sales amid a declining print market? Active and engaging YouTube channels, Instagram experiential campaigns, and an ongoing commitment to interacting with consumers in a modern (hipster, perhaps) way that draws millennials in and creates an ongoing relationship. So, what do hashtags and printer manufacturers have in common? #Everything.