A lot can happen in seven years. When color digital inkjet technology was first introduced, it could only be used with treated paper stocks. There were a limited number of them, and they were not as readily available as their conventional equivalents. In other words, when asked about the challenges of persuading direct marketing clients to try this transformative technology, the barrier was almost always, “paper.”
As more inkjet papers have become available, meeting clients’ expectations for color gamut and quality has gotten a lot easier. For example, there were only a few basis weights available in inkjet papers when the technology was new. Now most mills that are producing digital paper offer several basis weights of their treated grades. These are just some of the inkjet trends we’ve seen over the past few years—and there are more trends to come.
New Paper Trends Lead to Faster, Friendlier, and More Beautiful Mail Production
Technologies continue to improve for inkjet printing. Equipment advances provide an expanded color gamut and faster production speeds using a broader range of papers. The combination of improved inkjet technology and enhanced paper offerings results in greater image quality to support an array of direct mail formats. Perhaps most exciting for many who have hesitated to make the transition to the color digital inkjet platform is that there are more options available to run coated papers. In addition, there are more FSC- and recycled inkjet-compatible stocks being manufactured.
You may be wondering if the new inkjet paper options entering the market will change how marketers select the best stocks for a direct mail campaign. As my colleague Mike Dietz reminded us, best practices remain the same even when direct mail design trends change, and the same applies to how to select the best paper stock for your direct mail campaign. The basics do not change every time a new sheet becomes available.
As the market continues to evolve, we expect to see more conventional stocks being utilized on digital presses, along with new devices entering the market that will allow for a broader range of stock thicknesses and even better image quality.
Supply and Demand Will Rely on Education and Explanation
Looking ahead to 2018, we know the paper market faces challenges in balancing supply and demand. On the demand side, one trend we are following closely is the industry’s effort to educate consumers and business users about the value of paper. To this end, our friends at Domtar developed some great content for their Paper Because site. As they eloquently state,
“Paper is a sustainable, renewable, recyclable, plant-based product that connects us in so many ways to the important things in life. Great ideas are started on paper. The world is educated on paper. Businesses are founded on paper. Love is professed on paper. Important news is spread on paper.”
Still need to be convinced? Take a minute to learn about the educational and cognitive benefits of handwriting. I would be delighted if you would take pen in hand and send a note to me at Karen Weil, IWCO Direct, 7951 Powers Blvd., Chanhassen, MN, to tell me what you think about keeping handwriting alive. I promise to write you back.
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