Business opportunities for printers in personalised products

by Sonja Angerer | 17/06/2024
Business opportunities for printers in personalised products

Personalised and individualised products are popular and this is particularly true for both Millenials and Gen Z. Sonja Angerer shares the available opportunities for printers in this segment and what they can expect.

Why is Ikea furniture so popular? A contributing factor is that it is something that they have to build themselves. This is well known to science as the "ownership effect", and a reason why personalisation and individualisation are so important in marketing today. The effect is also not limited to millennials and Generation Z but effective across other age groups.

Caption: It's not just millennials who love personalised products. Image Credit: S. Angerer

Personalisation and individualisation: Definitions

In sales promotion, individualisation means that the customer can adapt a product to their own requirements. A well-known example is ordering a new car: here you can choose from different variants, colours and designs for the interior and paintwork with a "configurator". Many sporting goods manufacturers and fashion designers also offer such individualised products.

In most cases, those are simple adjustments from a predetermined palette, as well as additional services such as printed or embroidered monograms. This is why it is important to keep customer-specific mass production or "pre-customising" in mind.  "Self-customising" means that the customer largely designs items, as it is possible with the Modu Chair.

In marketing, personalisation is when the product is precisely tailored to the individual customer. This can be a website that displays content that shows pre-selected topics. Or a printed mailing that addresses the recipient by name. The production of chip cards with individual names, such as bank or health cards, is often called "mass personalisation".
Most often in the industry, the terms "personalisation" and "individualisation" are usually not clearly separated but used synonymously.

Caption: Car wrapping is also well received by end consumers: it makes this camper personal. Image Credit: S. Angerer

Types of personalised products

Digital printing, digital cutting, lasering and engraving have led to many mass-produced products being more adaptable to customer requirements. This has led to a wide range of personalised products, below are examples of personalised products:

- Promotional items
- Photo Gifts
- Printed interior decoration and home textiles
- Printed glass
- Individualised fashion and merchandise
- Custom textile prints
- Printed accessories and cases
- Furniture and furniture films
- Food according to customer requirements
- Vehicle wrapping

However, these different applications have factors in common. Firstly, they are often fashionable items. This means, demand can rise very quickly, but it may also decline just as quickly. Secondly, distributions depend on the web, as only online printers may find enough customers for personalised products. Customers can configure their personal product in online shops without the need for service. Without Web2Print most personalised products would not be viable.

Caption: From a simple cleaning cloth to a personalised gift thanks to digital printing. ImageCredit: S. Angerer

Equipment required to produce personalised products

The machines required to produce personalised products are already available at printers and with sign makers, examples include the following:  

  • Digital printer with UV-curable, eco-solvent and latex inks
  • Textile printers (transfer and direct printing processes)
  • Digital Cutting Tables
  • Laser cutter
  • Engraving machines
  • Industrial sewing machines
  • Welding machines

In addition, skilled staff can easily be trained to handle personalised items production. This enables printers to quickly respond and efficiently cater to the increasing demand for customised items. It also provides an excellent business opportunity to expand the portfolio and attract new customers with personalised products.

Get into business with personalised products

Printers who have experienced a loss of business in outdoor advertising and POS applications, now have the opportunity to reach new and lucrative markets with personalised products. Customers are willing to pay significant amounts for their personalised item.

However, workflows for personalised products are significantly different from those that a printer is used to, because those customers are end consumers, not B2B customers. This means that those new business partners are likely to have little expertise in printing and production, probably needing more support than business customers.

End consumers also have very strong rights in the European Union. However, not all of them apply to customised products. Nevertheless, printers entering the end customer business should consider adapting their terms and conditions. In addition, it may be beneficial to invest in certification of consumer service standards such as Trusted Shops.

By selling personalised items, a printer also becomes a product manufacturer. This means that they must guarantee the safety of its goods and comply with industry standards. In addition, end customers are paying more and more attention to environmental and sustainability certificates, mainly with printed textiles.

There are currently good opportunities for printers to expand and differentiate their business by selling personalised products. After all, younger generations are striving for conscious and individual consumption. However, one should not underestimate the effort involved in setting up such a line of business. This applies even if the required machines are already available.

To discover the latest content that covers a wide range of sectors including personalisation, sign up for FESPA’s free monthly newsletter FESPA World available in English, Spanish and German.

Personalisation Experience, Europe's only event focused on personalisation in print to bring mass customisation to your customers will return to Messe Berlin in Germany from 6 – 9 May 2025. Register your interest to visit here.

by Sonja Angerer Back to News

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