Print shop relevance for a digital-first new generation

More and more digital natives are redeveloping the boundaries and opportunities in marketing. However, often they have little know-how about the current print options. 

4 minutes 4 minutes
digital natives, new digital customer generation
Table of Contents
Increasingly, customers and decision-makers for print products are from this group. This is the term used to describe people who have grown up with the internet and the possibilities of digital media from the very beginning. After the Millennials, also known as Generation Y (born in the early 1980s to late 1990s), printers are now also facing Generation Z (born around 1998 - 2012). How can these new target groups be convinced of the benefits of print?

Printing companies face reality checks and realignments in a new digital world. They include technological transformation and digitisation, generational change, and Industry 5.0

The technology shift from offset to UV-inkjet with automated workflows is opening up new worlds for digital printed one-to-one communication. At the same time, it is important for print companies to address younger generations, to show them innovative print possibilities and to fascinate them, for example, with the growth market of programmatic printing

The baby boomers are gradually retiring - and with them a proven client group for whom print was a matter of course. The first digital generation, the Millennials or Generation Y, is now turning forty and is increasingly taking the helm in marketing departments and advertising agencies. And Generation Z has also long been part of the target group for printers. In future, people who have grown up with the internet will determine which media and channels are used. 

Many of the younger generation still think of print in terms of supermarket flyers that are distributed in mass with unselected messages. Today, e-mail inboxes are flooded with irrelevant messages. The letterbox, on the other hand, is an interesting channel that few providers bother with. 

Actively change the strategy

Young people like to interact, are creative and work closely in a team. In personal contact, they attach great importance to mutual trust and connection with their counterpart. Their business decisions are not exclusively driven by economic considerations; responsible action is also important to them. That is why they attach great importance to sustainability, environmental awareness and social standards in the printing companies they commission. 

As print experts, you know the possibilities: print can be easily integrated into marketing-automation and can be just as hyper-personalised as online media. Hardware and software are mature enough to deliver exactly the right individualised message at the right time. What is often still missing is the knowledge of young marketing decision-makers about the benefits of programmatic printing.

Build more online offers  

The new B2B  younger generation is well informed. Thanks to their high level of digital literacy, they use the internet from the very beginning and at every step of the decision-making process for a print company and its print products. This means that customers independently read up on everything about print products that you or your competitors offer. Therefore, if you do good marketing online and provide the right information, you have the best chance of getting orders.  

Use many digital channels for customer communication and interaction 

Printers today need to offer an omni-channel digital experience. Use different channels, personalise your approach and offer opportunities for interaction. Because digital natives love personalisation and interactivity. They want to decide for themselves which channel suits them best at a certain stage of the purchase decision. This can be the website and a chat at the beginning, an online product demo via YouTube the next day, a digital trade magazine, newsletters or blog posts and finally use cases and detailed technical information before the order is placed. Customer reviews and testimonials play a major role in purchasing decisions. Provide testimonials and refer to important customers and print projects on your website and in your digital channels. 

Often your client advisors are an important point of contact only at the end of the purchase decision and no longer the only link as in the past. However, they play a crucial role in the final decision-making process. 

So for print businesses that are fit for the future it is a matter of developing a hybrid sales and service mode. This can be done by providing information online and personal advice - whether on site or in a telephone/video call. 

Checklist for your success

  • Strengthening the online offer
  • Omni-channel strategy and experience 
  • Clear communication of value propositions, ideally with references 
  • Clear communication of values such as environmental protection and social responsibility 
  • Building trust and customer loyalty in personal exchanges and through digital interaction 

Shaping the decision-making and buying process with different media 

Your task as a printer is to ensure that the new younger generation develops a close relationship with print and makes targeted use of the opportunities in the future. Show the personalisation diversity of your products. Engage and interact with them. Make your business visible in both the digital and the real world and live creatively in both worlds - just like your new, young customers. 

Here you will find possible channels you can use to do this: 

In the initial information and orientation phase of potential clients, the main thing is to generate attention for your print products. Particularly suitable for this purpose: 

  • Website 
  • Trade journals 
  • Online publications 
  • Newsletters 
  • Blogs 
  • Chatbot

In the subsequent phase of analysis and opinion forming you should provide more detailed information about your solutions. This can be done, for example:

  • Professional article 
  • Digital magazine 
  • White paper
  • Case studies 
  • Online product brochures

Then people who buy from you check your offers more concretely and compare them with other providers. Helpful tips and answers can be found in:  

  • Detailedtechnical information 
  • case studies 
  • Scientific studies 
  • Videos 
  • Webinars 
  • Real use cases or customer scenarios for your print products 

The final decision-making process and the order are then completed by a personal consultation or even by direct orders via your web shop. 
Printers today also have to bear in mind: a customer who has been acquired often does not remain loyal for many years. The younger generation like to try out new things and always seek information. So it is important to stay in digital dialogue with them and to fill their own channels with interesting content on an ongoing basis. 

Act now, don’t wait any longer, renew your online channels and your digital marketing. Give your new breed of client the necessary know-how about print, especially because online advertising is reaching its limits, also due to the strict DSVGO. 

Adapt to the innovative and digitally oriented mindset of the digital natives. Therefore, keep asking yourself these questions: 
How can we create more positive, high quality digital experiences? 
What are the best customer touchpoints and how can they be continuously improved? 
This way, your entire online presence will catch up with the new generation of customers. 
Learn more about Konica Minolta's Professional Printing solutions here:
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