Connecting Emotions, Big Data and Harnessing the Power of Printing

Shenzhen, China

The Year of the Rooster calls for innovation, and the key to success is speed. While Chinese brands continue to rapidly gain momentum and value across many categories — in China and abroad —brand owners must understand why innovation is so important to Chinese consumers’ daily lives.

Speaking alongside Bacardi Wine Group and other print service providers, Forest Li, Managing Director at Schawk China, spoke at the China Printing Manager Annual Conference 2017 – held in Shenzhen, China — here are some takeaways from the conference:

Q: How have digital channels impacted the print industry?

A: The biggest impact should be within the publishing and commercial printing fields. As for packaging printing, the influence would be less. But it would be well noting that digital printing technology is ubiquitous and has pervaded every aspect of the print industry.

Q: How has the global connectivity of the publishing industry changed?

A: Every country within the globe has different specialisations and levels of development. China is no different. Per statistics from Keyin experts, China’s publishing industry CAGR has reduced by 6.65% in the past six years.

This is exceptionally so for the newspaper sector which has declined by 11.02%. It is however worth noting that not all areas within China’s publishing industry is on the decline. An interesting trend is that children books and the magazine business have increased by more than 13% in China in the past six years. The main reason is because of culture – every Chinese family loves to invest in their child’s education for their future.

Q: How does technology improve printing quality and efficiency?

A: Technology is a key enabler and driver in the current printing industry. Internet Technology has enabled a rise of close to 300+ printing e-commerce companies in China within the past three years. With a 2D achieved O20 connection; digital printing will highly influence prepress, the plate-making business, and change current printing business processes and models.

Nano technology will also create a breakthrough for traditional printing methodologies, and the combination of AR, VR and digital print will create new marketing models like Shanghai Heng Ze printer. In the near future, we do not doubt that technology will remove the boundaries now existent between print, IT, and marketing. In fact, printing will not only exist as a traditional model, but also a significant media platform.

Q: How do brands harness the power of printing to connect with consumers?

A: This brings me back to the above question. If we treat print or product packaging as kind of media, there can be several advantages for brands:

- Customised more experience between brands and consumers using personalized packaging design, emotive graphic elements that can for example, reflect trends such as current popular movies or TV shows.

- Value creation by offering authentic product information on packs. 

- Clearer security printing process.

- 2D supply–chain interactions, and so on.

Q: How do brands use big data to address and assess their printing needs?

A: I know there are currently a number of brands that use big data to address or assess their printing needs. Most of them use big data for marketing analysis, and future strategic plans. Almost all e-commerce giants as Alibaba, Jingdong have started to establish a specialized printing department within the organization to collect big data and also to promote personalized printing solutions on behalf of brand owners. New rules to play by are also being written by these companies.

Q: What do you think the printing industry will look like in 10 years?

A: Like today’s conference theme, I could not agree more that in 10 years time the printing industry will become one that is not just intelligent, but also interconnected, digitalized, environment-friendly and flexible.

About Forest Li: Forest Li, MD of Schawk China, has 15+ years SKG China experiences producing and protecting global brands from China and 20 years printing industry experiences and expertise. He has his EMBA from CEIBS, and is a member of China GP Club (Top 50 Graphic Packaging Club), Vice Chairman of Shanghai Digital printing association, and Vice Chairman of Shanghai Pudong Printing Association.