Print medium 'in danger of being written off' and industry needs to think in terms of 'emotional relevance,' complementary role with electronic media, advertiser tells BWPA/Hawkins Wright audience in London

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton

Nov 13, 2012 – Industry Intelligence Inc.

LONDON , November 13, 2012 () – The following report is from a speech presented on Nov. 8 at the thirteenth annual British Wood Pulp Assn./Hawkins Wright Symposium during London Pulp Week. The five speakers specifically addressed the global economy, trends in fine paper and tissue, the outlook for market pulp, Chinese pulp and paper trends, and the future of the print medium. Industry Intelligence has posted reports today on each of the five presentations.

Speaking from an advertiser’s view about the future of the print medium was Julian Ingram, executive vice president, McCann Worldgroup, UK, who said people in the pulp and paper industry need to make a point of understanding consumer behavior, to think in terms of the emotional relevance of print, and to transfer this knowledge to customers.

Customers need to be made to “understand that they can’t succeed without using the print product,” he said.

Noting the many and increasingly influential forms of electronic and social media across the landscape, Ingram said, “You are in danger of being written off. You are fast becoming unfashionable. You must do something about it.”

Adding to that is the concern about the carbon footprint, he said. Although print stacks up well versus electronic media, print, like the chemical industry, is “in danger of being repositioned in a bad way.”

The print medium still has a big role and it is complementary with electronic media, but the paper industry needs to tell the story of what print says and how it maximizes benefits, Ingram said.

Print offers sensory value, a time-out moment, and an escape from the digital world, he said. It has a special role, including the way it looks and feels. A magazine is tactile, has re-readability, a fragrance; Vogue, for example, would not have the same appeal if it were printed on newsprint, Ingram observed.

And a handwritten letter has emotional value and greater significance than something sent by email, which has become devalued, he noted.

The Economist is a printed publication that shows an understanding of consumer behavior, which is what print needs to be doing, Ingram said. Advertising agency BBDO saw that if it could be associated with business success, people would not only want to read it, but they would want to be seen reading it, he said, and indeed, people “see it as a physical badge of success.”

Even in this age of electronic books, he said hardback book sales are on the rise and that sales of the less-aesthetically appealing paperbacks might be declining, Ingram said.

McCann called for “robust research of the value of print,” saying his clients like choice and that they “really like relevant research.”

He suggested that pulp manufacturers “get together and fund a decent research program that proves the value of print.”

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