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HomeAFRICAEmpowering Customer Connections: The Impact of In-House Printing Solutions

Empowering Customer Connections: The Impact of In-House Printing Solutions

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By somesh adukia – managing director, canon central & north africa 

In an era dominated by digital channels, the challenge of meaningful customer engagement has become increasingly complex.

In Africa, where digital connectivity has rapidly increased in recent years, consumers often face a barrage of information on various online platforms.

The use of smartphones, social media, and other digital technologies has become pervasive, contributing to the proliferation of content and advertisements. In fact, the global adoption of ad blockers by 42.7% of internet users (according to a Hootsuite survey) emphasizes the inadequacy of relying solely on digital campaigns to effectively influence individuals.

Interestingly, the MEA (Middle East and Africa) region lags behind other regions when it comes to ad blocking, with Morocco (15%), Ghana (21%) and Kenya (27%) seeing a much lower adoption rate, mainly due to the lower level of PC ownership in these markets, according to research conducted by global research market company GWI.

This discernible shift in consumer behaviour calls for a strategic response from businesses to reevaluate their communication strategies.

Within the unique and varied dynamics of the African landscape, there is growing awareness of the necessity to extend beyond the limitations of the digital realm to actively engage with both existing customers and potential prospects.

Amidst this strategic effort to diversify, and customise to suit African cultural nuances, the integration of high-quality, uniquely personalised printed materials emerges as a promising and impactful opportunity.

Rediscovering the Impact of Print in a Digital World

Incorporating print into the communication mix provides an avenue to reconnect with customers, offering a tangible and memorable alternative in a predominantly digital environment.

This is where an in-house printing solution becomes a pivotal tool, allowing businesses to gain a competitive edge through the distinct impact that print brings.

The African printing market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.5% from 2021 to 2031, according to research conducted by leading market intelligence company Transparency Market Research. Valued at $204.1 million in 2020, the market’s value is expected to exceed $235.3 million by the end of 2031.

There has also been a significant surge in the transition from black and white to colour printing. It’s estimated that there are around 2,000 commercial printing businesses in Africa, predominantly small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs).

More specifically, 12 African countries are actively leading the African digital print industry. These include the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The transition from monochrome printing to colour printing in Africa fuelled an increase in demand for laser and inkjet printers. This trend is expected to persist throughout 2024.

As digitisation gains momentum across various industries, including education, healthcare, legal, financial services and logistics, a surge in sales of multifunction printers and scanners is expected, according to forecasts from market intelligence firm Infosource.

The Tangible Edge of Print in Customer Engagement

Print, in contrast to its digital counterparts, provides a concrete presence that enhances brand recall and information retention.

With overflowing inboxes and fleeting digital content, print distinguishes itself by delivering a physical experience that lingers in the minds of consumers. This unique feature allows individuals greater control over when and how they engage with printed assets, fostering a more focused interaction.

Harnessing the In-House Advantage for Africa

While outsourcing has been a common practice globally, African organisations encounter specific challenges such as accessibility, reliability, costs, and logistical issues.

An in-house printing solution not only addresses these challenges but also brings printing capabilities closer to home, providing not just cost-effectiveness but also adaptability to local trends and preferences.

Advancements in in-house printing technology have made it more accessible and cost-effective. Unlike earlier practices where outsourcing was necessary to utilise sophisticated yet expensive printing equipment, organisations can now bring the speed, precision, and power of printing into their office environments.

Enhancing Customer Engagement: Taking Control with In-House Printing Solutions

In the long term, the upfront investment in printing hardware is outweighed by the financial benefits of decreased external printing costs, offering a more sustainable and cost-effective solution for businesses operating within the diverse economic regions of the African continent.

By reducing reliance on external print providers, companies can minimise operational expenses associated with outsourcing, such as vendor selection, contract negotiations, and payment processing.

For instance, Canon’s Creative Workspace Solutions enable companies to choose the combination of hardware, software and services that will support their business in standing out from the crowd with engaging print marketing materials and exceptional business communications, all printed within the office environment, giving them full control over every job.

This transition to in-house printing also enables them to stay at the forefront of the latest printing advancements. The increased accessibility of advanced printing technology offers organisations greater control over their processes, empowering them to manage schedules, designs, costs, and other critical aspects directly.

Moreover, in-house printing provides businesses with the agility and flexibility needed to respond to changing market trends and local preferences. Africa’s dynamic and diverse markets demand the ability to customise and adapt printed materials swiftly to align with evolving customer expectations.

This increased flexibility empowers companies to maintain relevance in competitive markets and enhance customer engagement through timely and tailored communication.

Customer engagement is further amplified by the ability of in-house printing to offer a personalised touch to printed materials. Tailoring content for specific audiences or demographics becomes more achievable, as businesses can easily customise documents without incurring additional expenses.

This personalisation not only fosters stronger connections with customers but also contributes to improved brand loyalty, a critical factor in the competitive landscape of African markets where customer relationships play a pivotal role in business success.

Additionally, in-house printing enhances data security for businesses in Africa, a factor of increasing importance in an era marked by heightened concerns over privacy and sensitive information.

By keeping the printing process within the confines of the company infrastructure, businesses can mitigate the risks associated with external parties having access to confidential material.

This heightened level of security becomes particularly crucial for organisations involved in product launches or handling sensitive information, ensuring that proprietary information remains safeguarded.

Striking a Harmonious Balance

As businesses navigate the evolving landscape of customer engagement, the convergence of digital and print technologies emerges as a harmonious solution. Printing becomes an opportunity to increase engagement and reconnect with customers in a meaningful way.

The in-house printing solution, tailored to the unique needs of African enterprises, not only offers internal benefits and control but elevates communication to the next level, providing a more creative and memorable experience that underscores the true value of customer relationships.

It’s not a choice between digital and print but a strategic combination of both that propels businesses into the future of customer engagement.

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