28 May 2020

Print communication will remain relevant post lockdown

by Akanksha Meena, deputy editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the retail industry across the world. Consequently, the large format printing industry took a heavy hit. Avery Dennison, a leading substrate and material manufacturer, has been working to support the essential goods and services providers. Nitin Mittal, country manager, Graphics - South Asia, Avery Dennison (India), explained the company’s approach to navigating through the pandemic and how the print industry can overcome the challenges posed by this threat.  

Akanksha Meena: How do you think COVID-19 will impact the Indian commercial and large format printing industry?

Nitin Mittal: The COVID-19 pandemic has been and will continue to be a major challenge for the printing industry, more so for the large format and commercial printing as there is a large dependency on discretionary expenses. The printing industry is also dependent on many consumer services businesses such as restaurants, theatre, shopping complexes, which have been hit very hard.

How quickly the print industries players pivot and adapt to this new normal as well as focus on innovations will prove critical in terms of their resilience.

AM: What are Avery Dennison's strategies to re-enter the market once the market is functional?

NM: As a leader in the graphics industry, we try to stay relevant and adapt quickly to remain a reliable partner to our customers. Our solution centric approach to the business and to support our customers in this dynamic and unsteady environment is one of the strategic pillars to help us move forward in the post-COVID 19 world.  Where possible, we are leveraging our size, scale and global reach to ensure that our products are available to serve the community and ensure business continuity.

Many responsible brands are seeking informative signages and messaging at different touchpoints to help their employees and customers navigate these uncertain times. As a graphics solutions provider, we are reaching out to such brands with the end to end solutions to help them meet this need.

Last but not the least, amidst this outbreak, we foresee an increased focus towards the environment and health. With our core value of sustainability, we plan to support our customers with our expanding sustainable portfolio to help them become greener and more eco-friendly for the future.

AM: How did the lockdown impact your business?

NM: The spread of the COVID 19 Pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has brought a slowdown to the industry. At Avery Dennison, the focus has been to support our communities and to keep the essential businesses moving. Globally, we have taken steps to provide vital medical and safety products to the healthcare community, such as donating face shields and repurposing our plants to produce hand sanitizers.

In India, our products are essential for the production and distribution of many products in medical, pharmaceutical, food and other essential industries. In this period, our team has been working tirelessly to ensure continuous supply to them.  We have also taken this time to review and revive our business strategy to make us future-ready and agile in our response to external changes.

AM: How will this situation impact the marketing strategies of brand owners and what role will print play in that?

NM: The current situation is a stressful and emotional time for all individuals and I believe brands need to speak out to be supportive and empathetic to their customers. The rise of digital marketing and OTT (over-the-top) media in these times is noticeable with most brands using these channels to be useful to their customers in these difficult times.

Having said that, as the lockdown restrictions lift and the consumer movement begins, printed graphics will play an important role in the last mile communications. At various consumer touchpoints, such as airports, malls, public transportations, restaurants, brands will need to put out reassuring and essential communications through printed media to inform and educate their customers.

New product categories and services will emerge as this kind of pandemic changes consumer behavior. Notably, consumers are shifting to more online purchasing, where the product is delivered from the brand’s warehouse to the consumer’s doorstep. To be “top of the mind” of the consumers, brands will have to utilize the final touchpoint for online shoppers, by branding their fleets and creating an outstanding unboxing experience for the customer. At both these touchpoints, high quality printed graphics can play a major role.

AM: Any message for your peers in the industry?

NM: What we all have to remember is that, this too shall pass. Let’s use this time to introspect and prepare ourselves to be ready for the post lockdown world. At Avery Dennison, we are always open to new and collaborative ways of doing business and we would be happy to work together in rebuilding and elevating the industry.

Finally, I would like to wish everyone safety and health in these trying times.

‘We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope’ - Martin Luther King

Main picture: Nitin Mittal, country manager, Graphics - South Asia, Avery Dennison (India)

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