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Variable Data Printing (VDP): on an Upward Growth Path

Tuesday, 19 May 2015 | By Bob Boucher, Senior Copywriter

Variable data printing (VDP) personalized wine labels

Variable data printing, or VDP, has been widely accepted as a game-changing, industry-disrupting application enabled by digital printing. Drawing information and files stored in a database, VDP uses the varying assets – text, images, or graphics – that can be printed differently from page to page.

Variable Data Printing (VDP): Up Close and Personal

For marketers, VDP opened the floodgates to personalized, high impact direct mail, as well as customized collateral, POP, product packaging and labeling. For print service providers, VDP helped drive new profit streams.

Variable Data Printing: Steady Growth Worldwide

VDP usage is also on an upward growth path. In 2012, it accounted for 656.76 billion printed sheets, according to a Smithers Pira report, The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017. That figure is expected to grow to 853.1 billion sheets by 2017. Over that same period, traditional print/preprint output is forecast to decrease by 0.5% per year, while overall digital print output will increase its market share from 8.2% to 14.2%.

North America and Western Europe, which are experiencing robust digital print growth, are producing the highest VDP volumes. The business opportunity for VDP is greatest for direct mail printing, from 264 billion A4 (8.3 x 11.7) sheets (or equivalent) in 2012 and growing about 19% overall through 2017. With annual growth rates for digital output up to 20% in emerging markets – Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America – one can expect a healthy rise in VDP volumes.1

VDP: Generating High Response Rates

While marketers use VDP in advertising, customer relationship management, and invoicing, direct marketing is the Holy Grail of applications. The return rates for variable printed mailers and postcards have ranged from double the response to static mail, to as high as 10-15 times. Personalization can also boost response times; a well-crafted VDP mailer often connects with a recipient at a deeper emotional level and in turn prompts the consumer to respond more quickly.

To succeed in direct marketing, the golden rule has always been, “Thou shall be relevant to thy customer.” Without a doubt, VDP presents marketers and providers with an opportunity to take relevancy to whole new levels. To be relevant, however, requires more than a name and address.

Make it Relevant

The effort to maximize response rates – and ROI – generally requires messages that reference specific details or the demographics of each recipient. Where do he and/or she live? What do they do for work? Do they have kids? Enjoy sports, cooking, or movies? Are they Millennials or retirees? The language and visual assets need to resonate with each individual, and that rarely works in a one-size-fits-all marketing message.

In other words, it makes no sense to market dog food to cat owners, or lawnmowers to condo residents, or refrigerators to an Eskimo. It’s a lost cause and, worse, a waste of marketing resources and money. One way to avoid the waste is be sure to have valid market research and consumer data before sending out any direct marketing piece.

VDP Production Options

Print providers have a choice of VDP methodologies. The simplest approach involves the loading a static document into printer memory. The press prints the static document first and then adds variable data through the print driver or Raster Image Processor (RIP).

A second method uses software that combines all static and variable data onto print files prior to printing. This approach often produces extraordinarily large print files, which can overwhelm the RIP’s processing capability and grind throughput to a near halt.

A third option uses specialized VDP software to compile static and variable elements onto print files prior to printing. This approach generates highly optimized print files, such as PDF, PostScript or PPML. It allows the RIP to process static elements just once, which boosts print speed.

Producing Variable Data Printing with the Landa Nanography® Process

In addition to cost-effective, full-color short runs and offset quality, the Landa Nanographic Printing® process offers powerful VDP capabilities, as well. The Landa S10 Nanographic Printing® Press supports B1 (41 in.) format media, unlike other digital presses, as well as all off-the-shelf substrates common to offset printing.

The Landa philosophy is to empower providers and marketers with solutions that grow relationships with clients, generate sales, and cultivate long-term, loyal customers. Personalization is the key.

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1Smithers Pira, The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017, 31 Oct 2012

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