Changing face of print in the eyes of millennials

How do young people look at print and packaging? What are the lessons we can learn? Ramu Ramanathan tries to find out

10 Jun 2019 | By Ramu Ramanathan

The heat is on. But it's been raining conferences and seminars in India in the past three months. PrintWeek India has partnered in nine such events. During one roundtable meet, I came across an aha moment. The speaker asked the audience, made up mostly of CEOs and senior executives three simple-interactive questions. The first one was: Who in the audience is responsible for talking to the superbrands? Is it the CEO, chairman and managing director, or owner? Everyone in the group raised their hands. The second question: How many of them oversee the projects of important clients? Practically everyone nodded. But then, the answer to the third question was a shocker. The question was: “How many of you can link sales precisely to your print production activity?” And more importantly, do you know the ROI of your customer? Not one hand was raised. Zero. Zilch. Shunya. 

After this interactive session, there were two presentations. One by a top eCommerce brand who is in the apparel space and the other a luxury brand strategist. Both the presenters were in their twenties. Two solid presentations. No PPTs, no videos, no data crunching. Bas seedhi baat. In the coffee break, the seniors in the room agreed that our industry needs a different approach.

Long considered too slow to utilise real-time data, print and packaging have remained an environment where projects are almost always analysed retrospectively. This needs to change.
There seem to be five approaches which the 20-year-olds were advocating.

1. Print must solve business problems to maintain its value. A simple issue is a data. A Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) study highlights growing distrust with the digital economy and greater demands for transparency from consumers worldwide. DAN found that while 56% of people in APAC countries (including India) are optimistic that digital technologies will have a positive impact on society, a significant minority of those surveyed­—44%—have taken steps last year to reduce the amount of data they share online. As a newspaper CEO said, this is an opportunity for print. He said, everyone, says, the new media is in data. Wrong. The new media is an Idea! Data without an Idea is like a gun without any bullet.

2. End consumers are seeking much more. The Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands study surveyed more than 350,000 consumers in 31 markets to determine which brands are the most meaningful in the world. The methodology splits the definitions that make up ‘meaningful’ into three pillars: personal benefits, functional benefits and collective benefits. The really interesting trivia says, if 77% of brands disappeared in India, nobody would care. The simple reason is: there are too many brands. So people have a difficulty deciphering exactly how a particular brand is contributing to their lives because there’s just too much out there. Curiously enough, there’s a lot of political uncertainty everywhere. That’s driving millennials to say, "I want brands to step up to the plate and actually do more than governments to help me with social and environmental causes". The millennials trust brands more than governments.  Now the question to ask is, where do print and packaging fit into this entire paradigm?

3. Brands want to have fun. Look at what brands like Kingfisher, McDonald's and Ola did on April Fool's Day. And so, Atomberg Technologies launched a fan that could be implanted in anyone's brain to make sure they stay cool-headed. Kingfisher announced a sachet experience for beer. Ola announced the launch of a restroom service and labelled it a place to go for the generation that's on the go.

4. The systematic destruction of new entrants' confidence and experience. Other than low pay scales, there is the constant questioning of ability. This is forcing people to think about their future or forcing them to be a complicit robot to the whims of management. When many talented people are feeling broken and worthless because of their seniors, maybe it’s time the industry looks at how it is treating its human resource.

5. And finally, I read Virginia Eubanks's must-read Automating Inequality – a 260 pager about technology and government policy about technology. Eubanks says, "Everyone needs to understand that technology is no substitute for justice."

Eubanks says, ask Google Assistant, “Who made you?” It says: “I was made by a team of people at Google.” What it doesn’t say: 74% of people who work at Google don’t work for Google. They are all third party, and the 34 writers responsible for the Assistant’s “personality” just got fired!

Tags : millennials;