Inside the trend of mass customisation and personalisation

Mass customisation and mass personalisation are 2016’s buzzwords in the print industry. But what do they mean, what are the benefits, and most importantly, is there any money to be made from them by print service providers?

Personalisation can refer to both the service and products you offer, and research by Deloitte has found that customers are increasingly expecting both. The good news is that many customers are also happy to pay more to get the exact product or service they want – 20% more in fact. By developing your business to offer a more customised experience, you could also increase your profit margins significantly. This research, carried out in the UK, reflects a trend which is likely to extend across Europe, and even worldwide.

In fact, the print service providers (PSPs) who responded to the FESPA 2015 Print Census reported a 54% increase in demand for personalisation among their customers, and a 66% increase in requests for just-in-time print services. And it seems PSPs are responding to this growing trend of mass customisation by diversifying their businesses accordingly. The most common reasons given by census respondents for planning to invest in new equipment included a desire to move into new products or services (44%).

Common types of mass customisation produced by digital UV printing

Defining mass customisation and personalisation

There are 3 common types of product personalisation that can be exploited by print businesses:

Bespoke goods & services: A customer’s image, logo or graphic is printed or transferred onto any sort of merchandising such as mugs, smartphone or tablet cases, canvasses etc. This is what most people think of when considering product personalisation, and is now becoming more affordable, providing impressive ROI and profit opportunities.

Mass personalisation: Products are mass produced but are personalised to individual preferences. A good example of this is the labels on fizzy drinks bottles with individual names, or named keyrings often found at tourist destinations and in gift shops.

Mass customisation: Products are mass produced but the customer is offered limited options to customise the product. For example, football shirts – fonts, characters and numbers are limited, but customers can choose what they like from within a certain range and still end up with a highly personalised product.

UV and personalisation

Digital UV printing is one of the most interesting technologies where personalisation and customisation works at its best. The possibility of printing directly onto virtually any object or surface – adding embossing, textures, white and 3D effects – and the ability to personalise every item individually, means UV printing is an exciting area for PSPs to explore if they are looking for opportunities for growth.

The FESPA 2015 Print Census suggests that UV inkjet printers will be the most likely purchase for print businesses in the near future. And without getting too technical, Roland DG has devoted a lot of time in producing UV technology that combines all of these features into one device – allowing users to maximise the potential opportunities. Our VersaUV LEF series is one of the most popular ranges of UV inkjet flatbed printers on the market, ideal for this level of personalisation.

How one Roland user is embracing customisation to access profitable new markets

Stuff4, a UK mobile phone and tablet case printer is just one example of a business which has found success by investing in a Roland UV inkjet printer to offer a personalised product range. Purchasing a VersaUV LEF-20 desktop flatbed printer with the aim of increasing their product capabilities and customer offering, Stuff4 found it an extremely cost-effective solution. The profit they earned from the output of their LEF-20 meant they recuperated the cost of the machine within the first few weeks of ownership.

Mobile phone cases printed with a Roland DG LEF-20

The business currently supplies an impressive 480 different styles of phone cases, and the LEF-20 enables them to complete short production runs with a cost-effective set up. Now printing 1200-1500 personalised phone cases a day on three VersaUV LEF-20 machines, Stuff4 has not only expanded their product portfolio, but is now also successfully selling into Germany, France and Australia.

Neil Emms, Director at Stuff4 said: “Expanding into an unknown market can be a risk, but thanks to Roland DG that risk has paid off. Our machines have been invaluable to us as we have developed our business model and diversified into a new area of business.”

With new ideas and creativity, and the possibility of new income streams for your business, comes the ability to expand into new markets that you might not have been able to tap into before, including retailers, sports and health clubs, museums, theme parks, tourist attractions and much more – as well as dealing directly with consumers through an e-commerce model.

When quality matters – vibrant colours and tactile textures

Matt, gloss, embossed and textured finishes can be produced with digital UV printing 

Mobile phone cases, although popular, are by no means the be-all and end-all for mass customisation. For example, with Roland’s VersaUV LEF range, you can print on a huge variety of substrates such as acrylic, wood, board, plastic, fabric, leather and eco-leather and direct print on to an incredible range of objects such as pens, tablet covers, lunchboxes, key fobs, golf balls, trophies and awards.

It’s also possible to print on glass and metal if you apply a primer before printing. A base layer of White ink allows clear or dark coloured materials to be printed, whilst Clear ink produces gloss and matt finishes, embossing and 3D textures. Which all adds the incredible potential of using your business to approach lots of different markets and easily offer customisation services with a single UV device.

3 things you can do right now to discover more about customisation

You might think that expanding your range to offer personalised products is costly or not worth the effort – but the key is finding the right technology to enhance your existing product offering. So there are a few things you can do straight away to see just what is possible for your business:

  1. Ask for samples. Roland can provide examples of different personalised items, created with different printing technologies – phone covers, promotional items, bags etc. Whether you’ve got an idea in mind, or just need examples to gauge the interest from your customers, get in touch with us.
  2. Book a product demo. Wherever your print expertise lies, there is a Roland device that you can use to enhance or supplement your existing product offering. Your Roland dealer can talk you through any products or technologies that would like to know about.
  3. Calculate the return on investment. Your Roland representative or dealer will be happy to help you figure out the potential ROI. You might be surprised at just how quickly you can recover the cost of your investment, just contact us today.