The Christmas trade: what sort of creative potential are online print providers in D/A/CH offering?

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Customized print products at Christmas time are more in demand than ever before, but what creative ideas have the online print providers got up their sleeves?

Some folks are already gearing up for the fast-approaching Christmas season and wondering what they can treat their families, customers and business partners to. Print products tick all the right boxes in terms of qualitative brand messages. So how about a creative Christmas gift from an online print provider…

A package that I received two weeks ago – Flyeralarm’s Christmas Box – prompted me to write this article. Mind you, as far as I am aware, no other online print provider is offering a box like this containing a range of different print gift ideas. So the other online print providers had better `watch out´, as appealing to customers and decision-makers direct is often a successful marketing tactic. But what I am not so keen on is the fact that people interested in acquiring the Christmas Box are required to pay 19.50€, if they are not one of the “privileged few” that receive a free sample. But I shall return to the contents of the Box later. I have taken a look at what the other online print providers in D/A/CH are offering for the Feast of Peace and Goodwill to all Men. What creative, customizable ideas have they got? What incentives are provided to customers?

I would like to kick off with the Cimpress brand, Vistaprint. There is currently a 50% discount on its most frequently ordered items – Christmas cards and photo calendars. That means that the 117x182mm-format customizable folded card, for example, is available for 8€ for a pack of ten. Not particularly exciting, but one other thing at Vistaprint interested me more – the Christmas checklist for business customers. This checklist gives willing business customers a guide, with the aid of which they can plan what print products and marketing materials to offer at Christmas. In my view that is a genuine benefit for many a business customer.

Sassier than off-the-peg stuff: Ritter Sport Minis in a DIY photo advent calendar; Source: posterxxl.de
Sassier than off-the-peg stuff: Ritter Sport Minis in a DIY photo advent calendar; Source: posterxxl.de

In terms of products, PosterXXL and CEWE have more to offer. Apart from standard print items like photos, posters or folded cards, they are also offering design-it-yourself advent calendars with Ritter Sport Minis (PosterXXL) or Ferrero Minis (CEWE). Why bother with an off-the-peg advent calendar, when you can have chocolate bonbons et al in a calendar that has a personal touch. The cookery book-style photobook with a special range of add-ons is also well worth taking a look at.

Gimmicks to go with that personalized cookery book-style photo book; Source: cewe.de
Gimmicks to go with that personalized cookery book-style photo book; Source: cewe.de

So what’s in the Flyeralarm Christmas Box? Before revealing the content – the idea behind the Box and the customer empowerment associated with it are, in my opinion, more interesting than the actual contents. Nevertheless the overall package is what’s important here. In addition to more standard (advent) calendars, Flyeralarm is demonstrating how broad its offering is – from the customized beverage can to the printable Christmas bauble – there is a wide range of different gift ideas for business partners, family or friends.

The Flyeralarm Christmas Box with various print gift ideas, Source: zipcon consulting
The Flyeralarm Christmas Box with various print gift ideas, Source: zipcon consulting

Many givers attach a great deal of importance to the packaging and labeling of their gifts. So why not add a couple of premium old-school letterpress-style signs (hangtags), which are eminently suitable for use as premium gift tags and for adding a greeting to the customer. Although Letterpresso is itself not offering a Christmas special, you will nevertheless need to have such quality-conscious niche providers on your radar, if your printed gifts are going to stick in your customers’ memories.

Zipperkopf_drandenken

“None of our online print providers’ Christmas items really ‘wowed’ me. But as far as choice and pricing are concerned, every customer should be able to find something for their loved one and for their business partners too in the offerings currently available.” – Bernd Zipper

 

Flyeralarm is offering printable Christmas trees made of honeycomb cardboard to those folks with a bit more to spend. These cardboard Christmas trees are suitable, for example, for living rooms, events like Christmas parties or for POS displays. The push-fit trees come in two different sizes. At a height of some 1.8m and a diameter of around 1.2m at its widest point, the larger of the two versions costs a princely  345.10€ (incl. sales tax) as an individual item. At least the tree, which uses UV print technology, can be reused in subsequent years, given its color retention and push-fit connections. When designing a tree like this, you would need to include a rather more timeless motif.

A smart, if not exactly cheap version of the traditional hamper; Source: wirliebendruck.de
A smart, if not exactly cheap version of the traditional hamper; Source: wirliebendruck.de

wirliebendruck.de is also offering a really interesting Christmas product – a design-it-yourself hamper. 38.90€ buy you six (minimum order quantity) of these corrugated board-based film-laminated hampers. The hamper can be assembled quickly using the push-fit method. And for those folks, who can and want to afford it, a customized hamper is certainly snazzier than the bland brown cartons or washing baskets that are usually used to transport gifts.

My take: more print product customization in the Christmas trade means not only higher digital print volumes but also provides the opportunity to appeal to customers by coming up with creative ideas or giving out gratis tools/aids, e.g. the Christmas Box or the checklist. This provides great incentives for the period during and after the Christmas trade. However considering the technical possibilities available, online print providers could certainly do more than they have demonstrated to date. And making their presence felt more in the lucrative Christmas trade would certainly do some print providers a power of good as well…

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