Kayu Dhanbhoora: Covid-19 impact rips apart commercial print

Kayu Dhanbhoora, partner of Kolor Kode explains how sharp cuts in advertising by big brands plus restrictions on wedding gatherings and work from home policies are having a drastic impact on commercial print in Bengaluru

02 Dec 2020 | By PrintWeek Team

Dhanbhoora: We have seen a drop of about 70%. This will continue for about 12 months after the vaccine arrives

What is the change in the print market that we should anticipate in the post Covid-19 era? 
The feedback from our customers is that most brands including some pharma companies have taken a huge beating. This is why, they are being very careful with the limited funds that they have.

Is it possible to quantify this decline? How long before the print market bounces back?
We have seen a huge decline and are seeing a drop of about 70%. We feel this will continue for about 12 months after the vaccine arrives. The brands will require some time to recover and get funds to be able to spend as per their earlier budgets.

That is a long time…
Add to that the new norm of not being able to invite more than hundred guests to a wedding. This has seen the wedding invitation market shrink drastically.

What effect will work from home (WFH) policies of large corporations have on the print volumes? 
The brochure and catalogue requirements have reduced as meeting of people is not possible right now. It will not disappear totally because customers still prefer a hardcopy of the brochure. The quantity though will be drastically reduced. The argument here is similar to what is happening in the case of online book sales versus the printed book sales. 

What will be the effect on run lengths ... Will shorter run lengths mean more digital print volume? 
Not necessarily for all the cases. Quantity has reduced and it will further reduce. Having said that not all requirements will drop down to 10 to 100 in numbers. In some instances, the numbers will be more.

Colour vs mono. Will the equation change in the post Covid-19 era? 
No. I do not see this at all. Brands will need to retain their brand image and also their soft copies which they are emailing will be in colour. Thusfar I do not see many brands trying to save on colour print. 

Any major trends especially in the wedding photo album market?
Kolor Kode is not in the wedding album space and so I really cannot say with anything with certainty. However, my reading is that weddings are taking place with few people and so wedding photos will still be required; though with limited number of pages. But the industry can adapt to a smaller wedding photobook which the couples can share with members of the families who could not attend.

What about the changes in the education vertical and jobber vertical which you foresee? 
Educational vertical has seen nil requirement. The year book was not published this year. Another factor is that right through the year, companies usually have regular training and other team building programs which have stopped. Correspondingly, all the printing of collaterals for this has also stopped. 

Will firms do away with dependence on people availability in their printing shopfloor? For example: with investments in workflows and finishing equipment?  
This would be an ideal case scenario to reduce the running cost. The irony is that as on date most print companies are running in the negative. Therefore these companies won’t be able to invest and reduce the running cost. I feel that there will be more of a wait and watch approach. That said Kolor Kode is looking at adding some additional equipment to cut personnel and cost.

If you want to share your point of view about the above story, please email: ramu@haymarketsac.com