The power of print – why hard copy is hard to beat.

The increasing digitisation of our daily lives has increased at an exponential rate over the last few years, and we are more than ever tied to screens, using video calls, scrolling social media posts, and consuming media. From sources of news and information to home-working and leisure pursuits, the tentacles of digital channels constantly extend their reach into all our activities.


While you might imagine that the demand for printed promotional and advertising material is waning, nothing could be further from the truth. The medium that first caught the collective imagination as far back as the 15th century remains as highly appealing, well-loved, and effective as it was when William Caxton set up the first printing press in the UK in 1476.

The pandemic brought a renewed perspective on the importance of home, and direct mail enabled brands to reach customers whose only option was to shop online during the closure of non-essential retail. Printed advertising campaigns saw considerable success during this period and research carried out on behalf of Royal Mail indicates that 35 per cent of shoppers made a purchase following receipt of a direct mail prompt. Engagement with mail remains high at 96 per cent and the average item is accessed 4.5 times, with 23 per cent of direct mail being shared with other members of the household.

Seventy per cent of consumers say that receiving direct mail from a brand makes them feel valued. This increases when personalisation is used effectively to enhance targeted offers and bespoke experiences. Direct mail remains popular with marketers because it is precisely measurable and demonstrably effective
and delivers a reliable return on investment.

Research also shows that people like paper. When brands state their intention to move to paperless communications, 47 per cent of consumers say that they still print out electronic communications to read and file. Consumer choice remains key, and more than half of consumers believe that they should not be charged extra for paper statements and documents.

Printed communications often work hand in hand with online channels. For example, 70 per cent of consumers in Royal Mail’s survey say that direct mail has prompted an online engagement. In this way, traditional methods of communication work effectively to boost e-commerce. Programmatic mail now means that you can target existing customers using website data to follow up offline with browsers and those who have abandoned baskets.


Managed forests support sustainability

One of the most stubborn myths surrounding paper consumption focuses on its so-called wastefulness and impact on the environment. In fact, sustainable forest management helps to protect biodiversity and supporting natural habitats. European forests have been growing by over 1,500 football pitches every day, which equates to an area the size of Switzerland, since 2005. Forests provide homes for 80 per cent of amphibians, 75 per cent of birds, and 68 per cent of mammals.

Forests help to mitigate the effects of global warming through carbon sequestration. In fact, trees absorb around 25 per cent of the carbon emitted by human activities. Carefully managed forests including those certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) confer additional benefits, helping local communities to
sustain important industries with a robust chain of custody.

Recycling of paper is widely practised with 56 million tonnes being collected and repurposed in 2020 – 74 per cent of the total produced. Eighty-three per cent of paper packaging is recycled. More than half of paper products are made with recycled paper, although virgin fibres from sustainable origins are required
to renew the raw materials periodically. Virgin fibres increase the strength and quality of paper and ensure that it can be recycled to its maximum extent.

The paper and print industries are relatively low-energy and are responsible for only 0.8 per cent of industrial greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. Sixty-two per cent of energy consumption in the sector comes from renewable sources and it is committed to increasing its use of biomass. Ninety-three per cent of the water used in paper production is returned to rivers and lakes.


Printed materials bring your brand to life

Having established that print retains its appeal and can make a positive contribution to the environment and communities, there are unlimited options for stock, format and finishing. Choosing the right type of paper and presenting your brand in the best light can require expert help and guidance.

Just some of the options include:

  • Uncoated – a rougher, more natural finish that makes images appear softer

  • Gloss – vibrant coating that creates a more durable finish

  • Silk – classic premium coating for a crisp, professional look

  • Soft touch – a matt effect with a velvety feel that provides a touch of luxury

  • Holographic foil – similar in effect to metallic inks that also refracts light and colour

  • Textured laminates – decorative finish with a raised, patterned surface

  • Embossing or debossing – uses a die to slightly raise or lower images or text for a 3D effect

  • Spot varnish – points of light to help headings and key points pop

  • Lay flat binding – perfect binding where pages open fully without cracking the spine

  • Saddle stitching – two staples in the spine is more cost-effective option

Selecting the right format and pagination will maximise your budget by using paper in the most efficient way. The weight of the stock you choose will be coded with brand messages whether you select a lightweight, more disposable stock at 100gsm, or a heavyweight, luxury paper at 350gsm which lends  gravitas and reinforces high quality values. Weight is particularly important if you plan to send the item by post as fulfilment methods and costs need to be factored into the campaign. Forward planning will help you to choose the right format if you need to fold your item into an envelope or point-of-sale dispenser.

Packaging should never be left to chance as the material in which your products complete their final mile speak volumes to the customer. This includes their protective qualities, visual and tactile appeal, how easy they are to open, and whether the materials are sustainable.

Print is a fantastic way to get your brand messages across in a physical way and the choices you make should complement your carefully crafted copy. It is wise to discuss this aspect of your project at the design stage, with experts in print that you can trust. With almost 25 years’ experience in the print sector, PDS is well placed to take you through the options, and our studio can assist with the design itself if required. In addition to seeing your print projects through in the most cost effective and efficient way, we also look after storage, fulfilment and logistics and can provide a one-stop-shop solution that will take the strain from your in-house team.

For more information, please complete our contact form, call 01933 672150 or email

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