Analysing print’s place in the modern retail market

March 20, 2023
Authored by Yucel Salih, Wide Format/DTG DTF Specialist at Ricoh UK Limited Authored by Yucel Salih, Wide Format/DTG DTF Specialist at Ricoh UK Limited

Despite the influx of and increased use of digital technologies in the retail sector, print remains a popular choice among brands and marketers as a way of capturing the attention of consumers as they browse the shelves in supermarkets and high street stores.

This is all the more important in a market that is being impacted by much wider issues, primarily the economic situation that is placing a great amount of stress on almost all businesses. With consumers cutting back on certain products, this greatly impacts their buying behaviour and brands are having to respond to ensure their products stand out and remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds at this difficult time.

The BPIF, in collaboration with Ricoh, recently hosted a dedicated webinar on the subject, inviting specialists from both the print market and the retail sector to speak about the role that print can play in driving sales within retail and helping brands capture attention.

Titled ‘Display and POS - How do we make an impact in retail’, the webinar set out a number of key considerations for print service providers (PSPs) as to how they can not only help their customers succeed, but also grow their own businesses at a time of great economic uncertainty.

Buying habits

With consumers changing the way they shop due to the higher cost of living, this could lead to PSPs altering their own strategies. Olga Munroe, Head of the Retail Institute at Leeds Beckett University, said consumers are likely to look at cheaper, own-brand products during times of economic struggle, with the pressure on well-known brands to cut their own prices to retain sales.

As such, in-store promotions, much of which is print-based, will draw attention to these special offers, which in turn will help brands keep hold of customers. This will also lead to more impulse buying as consumers look to take advantage of offers while they are there, but the key to this is to ensure the brand is doing enough promotional work to make customers aware.

Then there is consideration of the types of products that will be popular during harder times. While consumers may cut back on certain luxuries, there are categories where they will not compromise such as personal care, children’s accessories, soft drinks confectionary and alcohol.

Printers may want to focus on working with these well-known brands as they show resilience and may even grow during a recession, which will benefit their own business in the longer run. It may also be worth looking at growth areas such as tourism and recruitment to see how print can help.

Sustainability factors

Another way brands are drawing attention to their products and services is by making a noise about their own commitment to sustainability. Protecting the planet is a hot topic for many consumers and they are much more likely to buy from a brand that shares these green values.

‘Sustainability’ has been a buzzword in print for a number of years now and many PSPs will already be working with brands on this, but perhaps the key thing is to speak with more clients and potential customers about the benefits of this approach and how you, as a printer, can help to improve their own image.

When it comes to retail-specific considerations in this area, there is plenty to look at. The plastic packaging tax will have an impact on many brands, as will new consumer regulations that require businesses to meet certain environmental criteria.

While there remains a great deal of uncertainty as to what ‘sustainability’ actually means, and a lack of clarification from governments over what specific targets businesses need to reach in order to be considered as being sustainable, one thing for certain is that print as a media can help retailers and brands in the long run.

The shift towards recyclability, reusability and reduction within retail can be supported with printed media. For example, when speaking about point-of-sale (POS), it would be much more sustainable for a retailer to simply replace the printed graphics on a structure rather than dispose of the entire piece when the campaign had finished.

This can also be said for the types of materials used to print; by working with media that can be recycled properly will further improve the environmental credentials of both your own business and that of your customers.

Of course, none of this can be achieved alone and requires a lot of cooperation among members of the industry. PSPs need to speak with their customers about how they can support them with their green goals, while manufacturers should do more to promote what is possible with print when it comes to marketing within the retail sector.

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