In many European countries door drops are a huge alternative to addressed direct mail. The DMA just published their 2021 Annual Door Drop Industry Report for the UK. It might not be a huge surprise that door drop volumes and revenues were dropping in 2020 – after all the pandemic forced many businesses to restrict activity and scale down marketing. Yet a 33.6% drop for 2020 is quite drastic.
Frequently, even within the printing industry, I hear that print is a small industry. That is certainly true when looking at the single print shop or even at a range of commercial printers. Adding up the pieces there is no doubt however, that print is a not a small industry.
The printing industry, as it is defined by the official statistics, has about 631,000 employees in the EU including the UK according to Eurostat for 2018. This includes prepress and finishing. It does not include big parts of packaging print, in-house print, copy shops and print in marketing and direct mail agencies.
Drupa 2020 is history – that never happened. Drupa 2021 fell victim to the pandemic as well. But there is still virtual drupa in 2021 and we are all curious on how this experiment is going to work out. After all, a virtual event is almost the opposite to the live, meet and touch drupa we all know. Virtual drupa 2021 is going to take place next week on four days on your screen, from the 20th of April to the 23rd.
Virtual drupa will have several elements:
- An exhibition space
- A networking plaza
- A conference area
Today, the 14th of Jan, HP held a webinar on interior décor printing. I hoped to learn more about the market in general and HPs printing options for the different types of applications and maybe even some hot news. The webinar remained more general however, presenting designers, printers and futurists – and less of my beloved stats and technology.
Nevertheless, there were a few important things that stuck.
- Covid offers new surfaces too print on
- Home office means home improvement
- Ease of use is important
- Think international
I would like to give a little bit more detail on each of the points:
Trade fairs have been under pressure in recent years. Cancelling most events in 2020 is making vendors considering their stance towards trade shows once more. So far drupa has been beyond discussion as the one trade show in which a vendor needs to exhibit to be taken seriously in the printing industry. Product and technology development plans have been timed for this show to maximise impact. Now drupa being moved to 2021 wreaks havoc to many plans and a good share of vendors decided to hold virtual launch events instead.
Two major vendors bailed out of drupa 2021 recently and opted for virtual events. Xerox cited insecurity around large events during a pandemic. Bobst announced that it was cancelling its participation at most trade shows, including Drupa, citing several reasons: A change in strategy to forego trade shows (except selected few in Far East) in favour of virtual events and experience centers, environmental reasons and that 2021 is already “full” for Bobst.
Virtual press conferences
As the first of the major vendors which cancelled their drupa participation for 2021 Bobst held an international press conference on the 9th of June. Several articles have been written on the launches presented, but I would like to focus on the underlaying question: how well does a virtual event as a substitute for a trade show participation.
First kudos to the event organisers. According to Bobst more than 100 journalists and analysts joined. The virtual press conference was well organized. The stream contained a mix of CEO Jean-Pascal Bobst talking, mixed with slides and him drawing on a flip chart (you still remember what this is?) to explain some workflow details. There was ample time for questions, also expertly moderated by Francois Martin.
Still – getting technology developments explained via a couple of slides always gives me the feel that I want to walk over and kick the tires of the new product at the booth or demo site. Given the wide range of listeners to a call it is impossible to give enough detail for the exports while not to overextend the ones that dabble in this field of expertise (or in the print industry as a whole). Crucially, as an analyst I want to learn about the important points that are not on polished vendor presentation slides, like pricing, availability, tech details, pros and cons and more. I find being able to stand in front of a piece of technology and talking to product managers, sales guys and technicians incredibly helpful. This is usually the opportunity to examine print samples as well. And you have a bit of time to let the first information settle and recall the points you want clarified.