A comprehensive new research study from Canon Europe among business professionals with responsibility for procuring print highlights that digital Print Service Providers (PSPs) are missing opportunities to grow their business through increased customer communication. The research is presented in Canon’s fourth Insight Report –The Bigger Picture, which will be published at drupa 2012.

Based on 420 telephone interviews with senior decision-makers in corporate organisations and marketing and creative agencies across Europe, the findings confirm that print is still a highly valued component of the marketing mix. Nearly 90% of respondents see professional print as important to their organisation – 15%, in fact, say that print is ‘critical’ and more than 70% see it becoming more important or remaining as important.

However, the responses indicate that print service providers are missing opportunities to raise awareness to their customers of the capabilities of digital print, so buyers may be far from clear about what digital print can do for them. For example, over a third of the buyers surveyed were unaware of print-on-demand, even though speed to market is a key driver in selecting media channels for marketing. Likewise, a third were unaware of the scope for short run publishing, and almost half are not using targeted customised direct mail.

This point is supported by the fact that more than half of customers, when questioned about proactivity in offering advice and guidance, indicated that their print service providers do not make them aware of new print developments or alternatives.

Respondents are confident of the effectiveness of print, with 71% perceiving it to be equally effective or more effective than any other type of media in the communications mix. The proven effectiveness of print is cited as one of the key drivers of print’s anticipated future growth, as is print’s increased use as a support mechanism for online and cross media. Print is also considered a key component of multi-channel communications, which respondents see as the most effective way to maximise reach and exposure.

While the study also confirms what many already know – that ‘value for money’ is the primary factor in choosing a PSP – only 10% cite ‘lowest cost’ as their key selection criteria, whereas 20% prioritise print quality.
Regarding the quality of service that printers are providing to customers, 97% of respondents reported that their PSPs meet their print communications needs and a similar percentage perceive their PSP to offer value for money. However, taking into account the buyers’ lack of awareness, this high level of satisfaction may be in part due to their ignorance of what information they’re not receiving.

Mark Lawn, European Marketing Director, Professional Print Solutions, Canon Europe said, There is an enormous opportunity for printers to educate their customers and raise awareness of what print – especially customised print on demand – can do to reinforce their brand and increase the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. Customers are actively looking for better education, more creative input and insights into print innovations. It is clear that printers are missing out on significant potential opportunities for growth and need to communicate far more frequently with their customers, putting aside any presumptions they may have about the level of their customers’ knowledge. Printers who take a more confident and consultative approach can grow their business and make their relationships stronger.

Canon’s focus at drupa 2012 will be on helping printers to see the bigger picture and actively use their digital investments as a catalyst to accelerate their business growth. Canon’s new research proves that the opportunities are significant and the company will be using this research to shape the support it gives to printers who visit the Canon stand (Hall 8a, Stand C06 – 1) at drupa 2012 (3 to 16 May) to ensure they are equipped to communicate the full potential of their digital print capabilities to customers.

Further in-depth interviews will be conducted with 30 respondents during March 2012 to probe more deeply into some of the challenges and opportunities identified by the first phase of the research.

Hall 8a, Stand C06 – 1, drupa 2012, 3 to 16 May

Additional live updates will be posted on Canon’s Twitter feeds (@CanonBusinessEU and @CanonDavidP) leading up to and during drupa.