Something funny happened on the way to print obsolescence.


"The report of my death was an exaggeration." - Mark Twain, May 31, 1897. Luckily, Mark Twain survived for another 13 years.

Since the advent of popular digital photography pundits have heralded the death of print. These pundits had no particular dislike for prints or printing. In fact their homes, like all homes, included archives of treasured prints. The pundits simply saw a new world in which print was, or soon would be, no longer required.

The evidence of impending obsolescence was everywhere. Tens of thousands of small print shops and photo shops simply vanished during the first decade of the new century. Iconic companies, such as Kodak and Polaroid, faded from relevance. Newspapers everywhere sat on the brink of extinction. Screens replaced pages and photos. The road to print obsolescence looked like a multi-lane superhighway with no off-ramps and no speed limit.

Then, something funny happened. Or, more accurately, a stream of funny things began to take shape that caste the surety of print obsolescence into doubt. Perhaps many of the things that drove the "old print economy" were, in fact, wants disguising as needs. We wanted news, which came disguised as newspapers and magazines that we needed. We wanted memories, which came disguised as a bag of prints which we needed. We still hunger for news and hunger for captured and shared memories. We just don't need printed materials to satisfy those wants any longer. What is emerging in the "new print economy" is print that is discretionary and personal. The forces that are driving robust new opportunities are powerful and sustainable. Here are five:

1.Consumer Thirst for Personalized Everything.
2.Retailer Urgency to Deliver Omnichannel Shopping Experiences, Personalized Products of All Sorts, Click-2-Collect Opportunities, Digital Display Merchandising.
3.The Evolution of Smartphone Shopping.
4.The Influence of Social Media (especially image-centric Pinterest and Instagram)
5.Emergence and Refinement of Software Platforms that Deliver Frictionless Product Personalization and e-Commerce Solutions.
Print is different in the "New Print Economy," and full-participation in this economy requires a new and very different set of competencies for success. Those who emerge or adapt to best serve in this economy may reap unprecedented rewards fulfilling products that are personal and meaningful versus commodities.


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