Five questions for 2015

The Indian economy is forecast to grow at 7.4% in 2015-16 and the Indian market is set to become buoyant again. There are reports which have indicated better profit growth prospects. We put five questions to the print CEOs as to what they expect in 2015

13 Feb 2015 | By PrintWeek India

Anuj Bhargava
Kumar Labels, New Delhi
Q: Will brands get even more interested in personalised labels and packaging? Will we see more inline digital finishing in 2015?
I will split this in two questions:
Personalised labels caters primarily to gifting industry and not general packaging domain. In my personal opinion, I do not see this growing significantly in the near future.
Digitally printed labels in general: My cost estimates do not favour a standalone digital printer making profits by itself. It can do so only by taking on jobs that are not profitable on flexo.
Hence, I do not see significant investments coming in high-end digital printers. In my opinion, digital finishers (lasers and plotters) also do not justify the investment, given the customers are not willing to pay significant premium for quicker delivery.

Vinod Jain
Secure Print, Kolkata
Q: Underpricing: Will print businesses be dogged by this menace?
With the explosion of the internet, commercial printing jobs (printing of letterheads, envelopes, calendars, diaries, greeting cards, printed forms, railway and air tickets, statutory forms, etc) are getting scarce. Enactment of laws doing away with the requirement of printing of balance sheets, etc have further added to the misery of the printing units.
While there has been a spiraling rise in the prices of raw materials, services, transportation, etc, the printing rates in turn have come down, seriously affecting the margins of the printers. Besides, corporate houses are adopting the reverse bidding procedure to squeeze maximum out of the printing units and as a result majority of the printers, particularly small printers are literally fighting for survival.
While the return on investment is far from satisfactory, in order to feed the printing machines and get the jobs, majority of the printers are overlooking the basic aspects of costing and indulging in underpricing.
I am, therefore, of the view that the commercial printing business especially will be dogged by the threat of underpricing for some time to come.

Ashish Rajoria
Aadarsh Printers, Bhopal
Q: To what extent is educating your customers a good idea?
Educating customers mean what the product can do to solve an issue for him. When you are educating your customer, you are helping him understand the benefit of a solution and honestly conveying your status in the market.
At the end, you establish a more knowledgeable customer base while you develop loyalty. I completely believe in the transparency of educating first than marketing. 

Tejas Tanna
Printmann, Mumbai 
Q: Value addition or scaling up to grow in business?
A bit of value-addition and scaling up should be the key for the near future. In the sense, smart investments that will help propel production and also help scale up the capacity. For example, certain areas in our workflow need to be identified, such as the dominance of manual labour.
This should be replaced by smarter investments like inspection systems, which are not very expensive yet very effective to boost productivity. 
Value-addition in our industry cannot always be sold as you need your customers to be ready to pay that extra premium. Hence, you need to scale up in such a way that you could keep a certain spare capacity to provide value additions for your premium customers. 
We are into pharmaceutical packaging. Making a carton functional, by adding partitions or pop-ups or false base, adds a lot of value to the carton for the end-user.
Perhaps the right way to add value to the packaging is to make it more effective and more convenient for the end-user. Also, certain anti-counterfeiting measures to the pack or by adding embellishments or by adding unique coding through digital printers could also help. The mantra should be smarter investments that could provide value additions, as well as boost your productivity.  

Iqbal Kherodawala
Printline Reproduction, Mumbai
Q: How will you define print innovation in 2015?
Innovation this year, as well as in the years to come, will be defined by how much a converter/printer understands his customer. It will come from new ways, to either provide the same product or services or to give the customer something that he is expecting but not aware of. The customer will always pay extra for value addition, if this gives his product an edge, be in terms of looks, functionality, or simply better logistical handling. Most converters have now realised that it is better to pre-empt the customer and this is where continuous innovation will help. It just requires a mindset and not heavy investment.