PIASC Blog

January 26, 2020

You Don’t Know Jack

By Piasc
You Don’t Know Jack

I’ve concluded that those who think that print is dead know nothing about print. People see newspapers and reference materials like encyclopedias as print. Thus, when these institutions reduce circulation or move online, people conclude print is dead. What these individuals fail to understand is newspaper publishing and printing of encyclopedias is the “small print” of the printing industry.

It only takes a trip to the local shopping mall to see print is alive and well.

First, to begin the visit to the mall, coupons arrive in the mail. These targeted direct mail pieces provide discounts on many items of interest to the consumer. Most consumers fail to understand the extent to which these offers are targeted. These ads are not the spray and pray junk mail of the past. Today’s offers are the result of a detailed analysis of multiple data points used to design a direct mail offer that fits the expressed needs of the individual consumer.

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In addition to coupons, today’s consumers are influenced by ads and offers found in their favorite magazine and product catalogs. The lifestyle photography in today’s print publications is a far cry from the old Sears’ catalog images. Many of the photos in today’s publications have a distinct theme. In some cases, many of the products in the ad are available from the same retailer. These ads have a strong influence on consumers who want to have the same “look” as the models in the magazines.

So far, print has influenced our trip to the mall, and we haven’t even left the house.

On the way to the mall, print, once again, will influence our purchase decisions before we arrive. The power of outdoor print media cannot be overemphasized. In many ways, outdoor advertising reinforces the ideas we received from the direct mail piece or magazine ad.

Have you ever noticed how you see a print ad in a magazine or hear a radio commercial, and then you “happen” to see a print ad on a billboard while driving? That’s no coincidence. An effective marketing campaign involves multiple channels. Outdoor advertising is an effective use of one of those channels.

Once we arrive at the mall, print will continue to direct and encourage our decision making. From locating the correct retail establishment to helping us decide where to eat, print will guide our purchase decisions.

Parked outside the mall is a vinyl wrapped van promoting a restaurant. The images are crisp and sharp. The message suggests a place to eat before you enter the mall and see what other food choices are available.

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The power of print is impressive. Even with coupons in hand, we are distracted by the many print ads we see as we walk through the mall. One sign in the store window reads, “Save 20% this weekend only!” Another says, “Buy one get one free.” And the materials on which these ads are printed tell us a lot about the retail shop, and it’s products.

The variety of substrates available for wide format printing is impressive. Everything from vinyl to soft fabrics to textured stocks, each giving the consumer a different “feeling” about the store and its products. The substrate itself can show the difference between a discount store and a high-end establishment.

In addition to the ads hanging in the store windows, window clings on the store’s doors, floor decals, and point of purchase displays inside the store will guide purchase decisions.

How many times have you entered a store to buy one thing but left with a basket full of products? Research shows that 70% of what the average consumer buys during their shopping trip was unplanned purchases.

This is due in large part to effective packaging. Today’s products are embellished with tinted foils, embossed text, and textured substrates. Some packages have interactive labels with augmented reality triggers. These labels come to life with stories and activities by using a Smartphone app. Other products have instant redeemable coupons to encourage consumers to take a look and buy.

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While walking around the mall, you see people wearing t-shirts, hoodies, and jackets emblazoned with their favorite sports team, band, television show, or historical figure. This apparel is embellished with specialty inks and creative designs. Others are designed to have a “vintage” look. Either way, this clothing allows people to promote their teams and express their taste.

While shopping, many establishments provide a trinket or tchotchke. These advertising specialties help promote their business. Many are useful, like pens or mugs. Each time these are used, the consumer is reminded of the company.

During a trip to the mall, it’s not unusual to stop for a coffee. The coffee shop, too, is full of printed products. Everything from napkins to window clings to coffee cups; the whole place runs on print.

Printing touches every part of our lives. During a simple shopping trip, we engaged with offset and digital print with the coupons, magazines, and catalogs. Grand format printing produced the outdoor signage. Large format printing created the vehicle wraps, signs and window clings. The advances in flexography made the beautiful labels and packaging. Screen-printing gave us the graphic tees, hoodies, and jackets. And a mixture of many these printing processes made the advertising specialties possible. This only touches the surface of the critical role print plays in our lives.

To think that print is dead just because a newspaper’s circulation drops shows a complete ignorance of the industry. The reality is that print is as natural to our being as breathing. Just close your eyes and consider the number of times you encounter something printed from the moment you wake ….. don’t forget the clock face or the measurements on the coffee pot! Print is living with us.

About the Author

PIASC is the largest graphic arts trade association in the country. They are devoted in helping members succeed. For over 80 years, they have been servicing businesses in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Kern, Ventura and Clark counties.

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