The tale of two print industries in India

There's an Austrian glassmaker Claus Riedel. He taught us: red wine needs a wider glass for the fuller aroma, while white wine needs a smaller, narrower glass for the more delicate flavour.

22 Jan 2020 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Ramu Ramanathan is the editor of PrintWeek and WhatPackaging? magazines

Today, Indian wine drinkers genuinely believe in this theory of the glass. But like everything on this planet, it's not the truth – it’s clever marketing.
Author Dave Trott expains, how so. "Claus Riedel grew a market in which everyone has what you make and don't need more of it. He was the marketing genius to see an opportunity in talking to that market."

Until the 1950s, most people had just one set of glasses and they used them for whatever drinks guests wanted: white wine, red wine etc. Riedel was the first to introduce the concept of different glasses for different wines. He said a single set won’t do – you can’t serve different wines from the same glasses.

This is an important lesson for print.

Be genuinely creative and think different; and re-invent print.

This is not as easy as it seems.

I will reproduce the transcript of an interview my colleague Dibyajyoti Sarma conducted with a print VIP from our industry.

PrintWeek: Hello sir, I’m calling from PrintWeek. Can I talk to you?

VIP: About what?

PrintWeek: About the printing industry in Assam.

VIP: Why? Do you want to help me?

PrintWeek: No, we wanted to conduct an interview with you about the industry…

VIP: I can tell you over the phone, the industry is in a bad state.

PrintWeek: Oh, but we are hearing that Guwahati is an emerging market for packaging converters, with lot of investments?

VIP: It needs crores of rupees to set up a factory like that. How many people in India do you think can do it? Things are very bad. There is no business. I am planning to close my shop soon.

PrintWeek: Are you closing down your plant?

VIP: Not really… (fumbles)

PrintWeek: Sir, then perhaps we can do an interview when I am in Assam, as and when you have time.

VIP: I don’t have time. I told you the industry is in a bad state. Now write whatever you want to write.

Which brings us to the here and now.

Vanity Fair magazine stated in its introduction for its lead piece about products and brands we never knew 10 years ago. "This time a decade ago, there was no such thing as an iPad. There were no food delivery meal kits. You didn’t speak to a machine called Alexa or Siri, or met your date with an app called Tinder. You stayed in hotels, not Airbnbs. You telephoned a cab company, rather than pressing a button and waiting for an Uber or a Lyft.

You didn’t waste hours of your day on Instagram, scrolling from one box to the next like a gerbil running on a wheel as an algorithm watches and takes notes. Jobs that are now performed by hundreds of thousands of people – Uber driver, gif-maker, social media influencer – didn’t exist."

Point is, print consumers will remain print consumers if they see that print is actually living up to its core values. Nearly seven out of 10 millenials told PrintWeek in an informal survey which we conducted in 2019 that, "Once a brand loses my trust, there is no getting it back."

Today, end-users are becoming interested in how products are manufactured and where raw material is sourced from, which is why print companies and print CEOs have to walk the walk from beginning to end like Claus Riedel. Instead of saying, "I told you the industry is in a bad state. Now write whatever you want to write."
Claus Riedel built a new market on the back of the glass market that existed, by re-inventing wine drinking. This is the message we need to be sending out: invent and re-invent.