We continue our Industry Profile series with Hewlett-Packard (HP). Palo Alto, CA-based HP offers a wide array of hardware, media, and ink for the graphic arts. Its Designjet line of printers includes devices for photographers, graphic designers, architects, and print service providers (PSPs). The Scitex portfolio includes grand format, high-volume, flatbed industrial solutions for PSPs looking to produce billboards, point of sale signage, vehicle wraps, and more. The company’s flagship latex ink is found throughout both lines.
Ink and Pages
One clear sign of a rebounding economy is an increase in consumable spend. HP experienced this with its customers in the last financial quarters. One theory credits the trust the company has built between itself and its PSPs.
“I think that experiencing such a significant downturn demonstrated the need to choose a partner that you can trust in good and bad times. This partnership goes well beyond technology or the introduction of a new printer,” explains Yariv Avisar, VP/GM, Scitex large format printing solutions, imaging and printing group, HP.
The company financially assists its customers with HP Financial Services, which now finances about 70 percent of bids. Throughout the downturn, it introduced a range of new printers—a physical representation of its commitment to the customer. The HP Scitex FB7500 printer debuted and most recently the HP Scitex LX850 and LX820 126-inch latex ink printers, and HP LX610 Latex Scitex ink.
These last two printers, introduced in April, provide previous Scitex LX users with an upgrade path. According to Joan Pérez Pericot, worldwide marketing director, Scitex large format printing solutions, imaging and printing group, HP, this solidifies the company’s commitment to the customer.
“That’s a core part of our value proposition. HP Scitex allows the customer to grow and continue to upgrade, while keeping technology up to date. It is a big investment for us, but it is a very important part of our commitment to customers and who we are as an organization,” he says.
While continuing this attention to the PSP, HP simultaneously executes ways to educate and commit to the customer’s customer, the brand owner. During the economic crisis, many brand owners began counting dollars to improve campaign efficiency and control how advertising was spent. This drove the demand for digital, as many saw the benefits—especially in shorter runs and print jobs that required personalization to strengthen the impression on the buyer.
Analog to Digital
The acceleration to digital is moving fast. More commercial printers notice the opportunities afforded to them with this technology. “Having the right technology at the right time has enabled our customers to expand into new profit areas and applications,” adds Pericot.
These new applications include point of purchase (POP) signage in the retail market, which HP has cited as the biggest opportunity—almost two times larger than outdoor signage. According to Avisar, while outdoor signage is currently 65 to 70 percent digitally printed, POP and retail is only 20 to 22 percent. Printers must capitalize, educating customers on the transition and benefits of a digital device.
However, can they afford to do so? Especially with the budget cuts throughout the last ten years. Adopting new technologies, buying new printers, is one such option—but do they have the money? Certain companies do. Avisar says that during the downturn bigger shops became bigger and smaller shops became more specialized. The bigger shops have the capital to become one-stop shops for customers and acquire more machinery. The smaller, specialized companies are adapting printers for service and time to market; specializing in vehicle wraps, interior décor, and other niche applications.
This innovation—printing on curtains, pillows, tabletops, furniture, doors, flooring—is all being driven by the customer. The expansion of HP’s Latex Printing Technologies from Designjet to Scitex printers illustrates that, as many PSPs recognize the versatility in these devices.
A Printing-Focused Market
HP understands the hand customers play in innovation. “At the same time HP works with engineers to develop new technologies, we have marketers and consultants that meet with and try to better understand the end user, including interior designers and brand owners,” explains Avisar.
Pericot views it as a partnership. Saying the beauty of the industry is that the company only profits when the customer does. HP’s innovation affects the customer and vice versa. Instead of a PSP looking for a product, they now look for a partner, who will be around for the long term to provide an evolving print portfolio that consists of not only printers, but ink, media, and software. HP is strongly positioned to do just that.
“It’s not just a printer focus anymore; it’s a printing solution focus. We are looking over the entire eco-system of the PSP,” concludes Avisar.
Read insight from more vendors in our Industry Profile series, which continues in the October issue.