What Do Print Buyers Really Think of Monochrome Digital Print?

By | August 23, 2010

I love the member polls from Print Buyer Online. It’s always fun to go in there, poke around the archives, and see what print buyers think about different issues and compare them to how printers think about them. You can learn a lot that way.

PBO’s most recent closed poll (7/13/2010) is on the issue of monochrome digital printing. How is it being used? The results are interesting. Here’s what poll respondents said:

a) Black-and-white is dead. We’ll never go back now that we print in color (12%)

b) We’ve stayed with monochrome but have added a transpromotional touch to our statements with personal and relevant messaging that helps to cross-sell our products and services (18%)

c) We integrate monochromatic design themes occasionally to reduce printing costs (24%)

d) We use monochrome print and divert print cost savings to fund online elements that support campaigns such as email, mobile messaging and personalized URLs (6%)

e) Our print jobs are a mix of color and monochrome and our printer utilizes “job splitting” (printing color pages on color printers and B/W pages on B/W printers) to help keep costs down (41%)

The number that jumped out at me is the 18% of poll respondents who say they are integrating variable messaging into their black-and-white documents. When we think of selling 1:1 printing, we normally think about the need to go around print buyers, whose job is to hold the line on price. But this poll suggests that print buyers are increasingly tasked with understanding value and marketing content than they used to be.

Also standing out is the 12% who said that they’d permanently switched from black-and-white to color. Again, we normally think of print buyers as holding the line on price. Although the cost-efficiencies of color have come down greatly, black-and-white still costs less. Again, the print buyers in this poll are showing preference for value over price.

This isn’t yesterday’s print buyer.  Got any stories to tell?

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2 thoughts on “What Do Print Buyers Really Think of Monochrome Digital Print?

  1. Howie Fenton

    Heidi,
    I don’t claim to be an expert on print buyers preferences but I can say with confidence that there is still a viable market for black and white page printing. You can see it in many places such as universities offering course packs or companies offering books or financial printing. I still see in many companies using 1 – 4 high speed (90 ppm) monochrome devices. Granted the demand is declining, so what many companies are doing is replacing 2 or three devices with one. But if you talk to the manufacturers who make the black and devices they are still selling devices although most will admit they are seeing a migration to color equipment and color pages.
    Howie

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Nigro Post author

    Agreed. I wasn’t trying to suggest that the demand for b/w is fading out, only that the attitudes and perspectives of print buyers are shifting. In order for these numbers to be as they are (and they are from a poll, not an industrywide survey), it reflects that the way print buyers are making their purchase decision must be changing. That is what I found interesting.

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