This will be the printing and converting chain fair, scheduled next year at the Rho Fiera Milano exhibition center with an unprecedented format. We have had substantial anticipations during the Print4All Conference organized on 12-13 September by Acimga, Argi and Fiera Milano. 

Ikea baking paper with cooking instructions in the form of pictograms, such as those for fitted furniture; the new type of packaging that combines a shelf life compatible with the GDO supply and consumption chain with the naturalness of fresh, traditionally prepared ravioli; the incredible “phygital” wallpaper that, triggered by a tablet, tells the kids their bedtime story while involving them in inventing new ones; the pizza box that becomes a DJ console … After being given up as done for, printing is now experiencing a new Renaissance. Not only is it back in the bookstore, in the face of the ebook, it has also been unleashed via disparate means to communicate products and manufacturers to a consumer who is no longer a “target” to be hit but a person to be won over, because not only do consumers welcome the things they buy into their homes, but likewise the stories and values of the branded companies along with them.

The three phases in the life of a product

The Conference launched this September by the selfsame creators and organizers of Print4All Expo (29 May-1 June 2018) proffered ideas, data, analyses and, aboveall, many concrete examples of how and how much industrial printing is evolving in its various functions, stimulated by the changing society and the extraordinary opportunities opened up – if you are open minded – by the new tools of digital communication. More than 400 operators (and 600 pre-registered), led by experts, were able to follow the ideal journey of a promotional message that starts from the pre-sales stage – when the product should be made visible and recounted – going by way of sales (and here is where packaging, the “silent seller”, medium and crossroads of functions and messages, as well as an irresistible purchasing stimulus, comes in) ending up at post-sales. A part this of the life of the message that is steadily gaining in importance, and all the more so the longer a product lasts – and that is by now so full of meaning to leave behind traces of itself even after use, when the consumer, finally aware of its value and reassured by the choice made, welcomes it among the good things in life. Thus leading to consumer loyalty (Nutella sets an example by having won the harsh test of the controversy over the use of palm oil).

Without creativity…. that same old product

At the Print4All Conference prestigious experts, active at all levels of the printing industry (designers, producers, distributors and their suppliers) showed how extraordinarily effective and innovatory technology can be when it combines with an open intelligence, while finding in Oliviero Toscani, guest star of the event, an exceptional bard and cantor (in his own way) of the visions of the mind VS the short-sightedness of a welter of data. Because, the great photographer and communicator reminded us, to do great things you shouldn’t seek for certainties in what you already know, but you should look ahead and dare, and the tool is not the analysis of the existing but the capacity to see differently or that is of creating. Toscani gives concrete examples and recounts one of his most explosive packaging innovation stories – that of the San Carlo potato chips packet that replaced the transparent pack created to show the product with an opaque white that bears a ‘live’ photographed image of the potato, sporting an underlying shadow, revolutionizing the aesthetics of the segment. And, reflecting on what creating means, he reaches the far-flung territories of Art with a capital ‘A’ to which he pays homage with great emotional density, reminding us that high culture, that today appears to be worth so little, and in particular the work of the great painters – «takes you by the hand and leads you to where on your own you would not be able or you would not dare go» opening the mind like nothing else. And God knows how much we have need of that, in our era of totalizing homologation.

Everything changes: the customer too, like the competitor

Along with Toscani, the keynote speakers of the encounter clarified and updated on the facts and principles of printed packaging, accurately defining the context and introducing the salient themes. Enzo Baglieri, SDA Bocconi, who also had the difficult task of tying together the various subjects, truly threw a lot of irons onto the fire, making one want to return to studying. Aboveall reminding us that «we are in a historical phase of change, from the economy of transaction to the economy of relations. Where the focus shifts onto the customer, while at the same time the way of competing changes: that has now become information based, shared even with ones direct competitors, where the advantage is no longer created by exclusive possession of the same but in the exclusive way each actor has in interpreting and implementing the same». Here the keyword of change is “connection” (to create relationships) and denotes an irreversible phenomena whose drivers are boosted robotisation, where the robots interact with each other and with man, and artificial intelligence, where machines can make decisions. In this Industry 4.0. scenario, print obviously changes, aboveall for the fact that information can also exist without a substrate and it does not matter to the user what means they are using. And industry – to go back to the starting point – no longer generates surplus value and hence profits by selling products but by winning over the customer. Hence, one has the economy of relations mentioned above, where the principal task of technology is managing huge masses of data, and competitors win if they are good at interpreting them. All this by following a “different” logic: no longer conflictual but one of integration.

A sea of ideas

Paolo Iabichino, Group Ogilvy & Mather Italy – «The destiny of brands walks alongside that of people. If you want to survive, you should never stop learning and changing» – and Peter Buttiens, Esma, with numbers and scenarios of the press “on everything”: automobiles, furniture, medical devices, electronics … opened new horizons, to be explored if one wants to work in the new world that is growing under our feet and all around us. Together with them, the participants in the three round tables transmitted information and shared experiences and evaluations that, following the ideal path of a consumer goods packaging item, allowed the contributions of the entire printing industry to emerge.

The first stage of pre-sales communication involved Largo Consumo’s Armando Garosci as animator and Arianna Bartoli, EuronicsTo launch the new 3D TV we created a flyer to be read with 3D glasses that has turned into a unique experience»); Federico Cozza, LeaderformThe intelligent and integrated use of new technologies enables us to carry out more effective and more personalized direct marketing actions. Like that map showing each local citizen’s route from home to the new Brico Center sales point»); Carla Leveratto, Roncaglia GroupThe secret of an effective campaign is not a big budget, but a brave customer and creative ideas», and a lively ADV creative has shown a number of fantastic examples»); Joseph Marsanasco, Rotolito LombardaDigital Technologies allow us to think differently, overcome the constraints of big runs and aim at increasingly personalised value-added products»).

The second stage, on print and in-store communication, saw Marco Sachet of the Istituto Italiano Imballaggio as coordinator of the round table animated by: Laurette Defranco, BarillaIn-store it is the packaging that makes the difference. This is why it is important to study different solutions for different products, from green packaging for bio-pasta to tactile, audible and visual effects»); Alberto Palaveri, SacchitalThe new technologies offer ample possibilities, to make full use of which we need an open dialogue between those who make the machines and those who make the products. An example? Coarse paper for Giovanni Rana’s coarse pastry, where the packaging interprets the product»); Vittorio Ramazza, CoopPackaging is an integral part of the product. There is a continuous and open dialogue between packaging providers and contents producers, that for the Coop is, aboveall, green»); Massimo Rosati, Nuceria GroupThere is still much to be done to achieve a true packaging experience. We have to turn things on their head, no longer considering packaging as waste or cost but as value»); Pier Benzi, Artefice GroupPackaging must seduce the customer, generate an unpredictable reaction: it must be smart»).

The third stage, regarding the role of print in post-sales communication, was again conducted by our colleague Garosci with the participation of: Antonella Altavilla, Coop LombardiaTo create a bond with the customer, we made a different choice: not to promote ourselves but to talk about ourselves, expressing what we do and our values»); Marco Metti, PrenatalThere is no magic wand that helps you loyalise, you have to experiment and take risks»); Federico Tornielli, PRT GroupPaper is back in the spotlight, but in a new manner. It becomes a kind of interactive and personal touchscreen, which creates a special bond with the customer»); Cristina Mezzadra, BricocenterTo create loyalty you can talk to the customer’s head or stomach. The brand value is what we have them feel in the stomach»);  Roger Botti, RobilantAssociatiIt is essential to follow the customer after purchase, because at this stage they really discover the product and form an opinion on it»); Giuseppe Ghelfi, Ghelfi OndulatiOften the smallest concerns are the ones that innovate. Because they are driven by necessity, they are” hungry”: they may risk more because they have less to lose», and the Valtellina based entrepreneur tells of the beautiful campaign for Melinda, with corrugated cardboard, digital printing and solidarity playing the lead roles).

The match was ended by institutions and companies that, with extraordinary commitment, are working towards making Print4All 2018 the home for contents, the “piazza” where you can meet up to do business, talk and discover new things and new ideas. Interviewed and anchored by Enrico Barboglio (Argi) and Andrea Briganti (Acimga), talks were held by Carlo Emanuele Bona of Assografici, Roberto Levi Acobas of Argi, Aldo Peretti of Acimga, Pietro Lironi as president of the paper-graphics chain Federation and Marco Calcagni of Omet. With the participation of Antonio Maiorano (fourth from the left), CEO of HP Italy, and spokesman for that mix between print and digital that offered the most “disruptive” examples of this second Conference in the lead-up to Print4All.

[su_box title=”The fair of 2018: special projects announced”” box_color=”#e6000a” radius=”5″]

Print4All Conference anticipated some news covering special initiatives, conventions and contents of Print4All 2018. The industrial print fair, in all its meanings and applications, will be held in the broader context of the Innovation Alliance that also includes Ipack-Ima and Meat-Tech (packaging of all industrial and consumer products, and processing of grain based food), Plast (plastics converting) and Intralogistica Italia (factory logistics).

The event, that will occupy the entire Fiera Milano Rho quarter, hence offers to visitors, in the same time and place (and with the same ticket) the chance to discover the latest proposals of the industry for all the needs of post production. With an international target and a focus, in this first edition, on the Mediterranean, and with the ambition to promote, to the benefit of users the world over, the value that “Made by Italy” is capable of creating in the many folds of the varied world of users.

Print4All represents the central piece and has been conceived as a sector fair, capable of fielding innovation covering the various phases of package+label printing: from the conception of the product up to the presentation on the shelf (also the virtual one of online shopping) up to post sales, when the contents is enjoyed and made ones own, and the brand is “metabolized”. The show has been planned working closely with the exhibitors, who helped develop a precise focus for the event.

A number of special spaces and events have also been organized in order to shed light on and valorize key elements in the package printing value chain. At the Print4All Conference, a program was announced including a series of open meetings offering practical information. A preview of some of the most exciting initiatives was also given, including the Print4Mat area – a platform for presenting the materials that converge in the making of a printed product, but also for designers and their designs for distinctive, disruptive, ecological and personalized packaging -, where we will get a taste of the future and discover new ideas and horizons, as well as the Focus on schools, which will provide visibility to educational organizations (those training the employees of tomorrow) and research institutes (pure future, or better yet, applied future).

The business networking initiatives and those to help businesses identify new target markets and potential customers also deserve a special mention. Among these, My Matching in particular is worthy of note. This online matchmaking service is already connecting qualified, high-profile sellers (exhibitors) and buyers (visitors) in order to foster business contacts before it starts and set a schedule of meetings during the fair – at no charge.