Market survey asks committed customers about the outlook for paper
Dialogue with customers is a key part of Holmen Paper’s product development work. The latest market survey ‘The Future of Printing Paper’ asks customers for their thoughts on the outlook for paper.
Product development at Holmen Paper is based on a well proven approach that involves listening to needs and trying to predict trends, analysing the data carefully and finally, if possible, creating new products or improving products that already exist. The team that works on market analysis and business intelligence has recently conducted a market survey focusing on the outlook for paper.
The survey, titled ‘The Future of Printing Paper’, was conducted with the help of paper purchasers, product managers and some marketing managers from almost 40 different companies within Holmen Paper’s core customer segment – newspapers and magazines (primarily magazines, but also some newspapers), as well as retailers from the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
“We conducted indepth interviews with around 30 of these and used different questionnaires depending on which segment the customer belonged to, in order to get as reliable and relevant a picture as possible,” explains Karolina Svensson, who heads the team.
Strong awareness of paper
These key figures were asked what they think about the paper consumption, paper grades and printing methods of the future. The interviewees were also asked to reflect on the digital arena and compare digital channels with print media.
“One thing we can clearly see is that the choice of paper is becoming increasingly important, and that’s good news for Holmen. Customers are much more aware now than they were in our last survey,” reports Karolina.
The explanation for this lies partly in the increasing cost savings that are being made across the industry, and partly in an increasing awareness of paper’s capacity for image building.
In terms of printing methods, the market appears to be moving more and more towards heatset and offset instead of gravure. This is because the viability of gravure printing depends on large print runs, whereas circulations are actually expected to fall somewhat, possibly with more titles instead. The magazine world has also changed in that the pace is much faster. There is a definite willingness to launch new titles, but if things don’t go well there is no hesitation in shutting them down. There is also a huge amount of competition for the reader’s time, not least from various social media.
“At the moment, digital printing is not that common among the people we spoke to, but they reported that when it comes to addressed direct mail, digital printing is most probably the best alternative,” states Karolina Svensson.
Reduced paper consumption
In general, the participants in ‘The Future of Printing Paper’ believe paper consumption will fall over the next three to five years. The retailers feel that product catalogues are slightly more under threat than direct mail, which remains the best option for getting people into the store – and shopping. For their part, the daily newspapers are finding that special editions, newspapers about finance, sport or some other specific subject, work better than the regular newspapers. It may be that newspapers are published fewer days a week and share an editorial team with other channels. What about the internet? The digital alternative is represented both as a constant threat and an indispensable complement. It is true that the internet is taking some share of the market, according to magazine sources, but they don’t see it as any great opportunity in the short term. The retailers certainly see some of the marketing going to digital, but print media still lead the way.
Smart insights into the future, and an invaluable foundation for continued product development work.