On 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
I would like to give a little bit more detail on each of the points:
I do feel that drupa is an important event for the printing industry, likely the most important one. Sadly, there have been many exhibitors pulling out of drupa 2021 – which is understandable in the face of rising Covid numbers all over Europe currently and increasing travel restrictions. Still I – and many others – want to hear about the latest products and technologies.
With a great number of vendors resorting to virtual events in the meantime I believed it to be a smart move of the drupa organizers to have a virtual platform for news and announcements as well as recently posted. Drupa is still THE brand for exhibitions around print, gets worldwide attention and has immediately a large reach.
Today was supposed to be the day for the platform to go live with several panels and supplier presentations. I was prepared to cover it. Admittedly the registration process was lengthy, and I did not get any notification e-mails for sessions booked. I also missed any promotion on social media like LinkedIn to prep for the day. I must be in the wrong groups then and/or use the wrong hashtags – but if I missed it, I wonder who else missed it?
Trying to login today I have never seen so many forms for cookies and privacy notes to click through. I also failed to login into the live stream. More logins, more popups, more dead ends but no stream. Maybe it is just me. Maybe I have not been in enough webinars yet …
I spent some time to make it work. The site looks sleek, but I constantly got lost and for every action a new tab pops up. Since my income depends on covering printing industry events, I was prepared to make an effort. Compared to webinars I have listened or presented in previously, this was by a factor more complicated that rivals the Düsseldorf hotel price multipliers during drupa. I wonder what customers whose main line of business is to keep machines running or designing and producing these machines did.
On the website there is a replay of the opening session announced. I might be able to report eventually on drupa or the pain of going virtual.
In times of generally declining magazine circulations, magazines for kids are doing well. This is according to a report in the Press Gazette. The Week Junior and First News in the UK have seen circulation increases and stable advertising revenues. First News has said order value is up 59% from its 62,000 a week circulation registered last year. For The Week Junior, a spin-off of the condensed news title for older audiences, circulation is up by more than a fifth to 85,000 copies a week. Especially during lock-down parents felt that kids needed to keep engaged and informed. Additionally, it served as an antidote against too much screen time. But it seems that this is not just a short-term effect. Surprisingly, customers are sticking with The Week Junior even though the publisher had anticipated a drop-off after a six-week trial period. This is proving that print is for kids not just in Covid times. Even advertising held up well. Ad spending reduced by companies closing or struggling during lockdown has been replaced by government funded educative ads.
During the pandemic up to now, children’s book sales have been booming as well. The Washington Post reports, that as Covid restrictions increased sales of books for kids boomed through March. Three of the top 12 categories for book sales were aimed at children, according to data from NPD Group, a market research company that tracks book-buying trends. From March through May, as the pandemic kept schools closed, that trend increased dramatically, with half of the 12 top-selling categories catering to kids, including three categories of juvenile non-fiction. Through mid-August, the category with the biggest growth was juvenile non-fiction, up 28 % from last year, while juvenile fiction rose more than 8 %.
Similar is observed in Europe. The German book publisher’s association states that July 2020 revenue from children and juvenile books increased by 7% over July 2019. Cumulative sales of children and juvenile books are 4.2% higher in 2020 than in 2019 despite the period of book shops closures – the only category of books scoring higher than in 2019.
Yes, we know drupa 2020 has been moved and Covid restrictions mean that there will be no trade shows for 2020 at least. Still vendors want to launch new products and since even open houses are out of question for now the last resort is virtual events. There have been a few in the last couple of months.
There are pundits that extol the virtue of virtual, but I find them somewhat unsatisfying – and I know that I am not alone. There are big differences in the quality of the virtual events as well, in terms of content, presentation and getting the attendants enthusiastic. But the main point is that marketing anything around print, which distinguishes itself as something multi-sensory and tactile, only virtually is a bit dicey.
Heidelberg today announced that the company is to cancel its participation in drupa 2021. After Bobst and Xerox the third printing industry heavyweight dropped out now. Industry experts will feel a déjà vu with the last days of IPEX in 2014, with almost all major exhibitors dropping out before the show – one after another. This sealed the fate of IPEX, the second largest print trade show at its time.
Heidelberg justifies the decision of not exhibiting at drupa with the shortening innovation cycles and emerging digital business models. Heidelberg plans to customize its activities in regional markets and segments as well. Plans are to replace trade shows with events at their Print Media Centers (5 globally) and virtual events. Heidelberg pulled out of trade shows in developed countries many years ago, citing they know all customers already and rather invite them to the open house event. As the only exception drupa remained, as “the trade show you need to exhibit to be taken seriously in the graphic arts industry” and as the show that sets the mark for trends and technology developments.