In recent years, we have seen explosive growth in the interior décor market with digital décor increasing at a rate of more than 20 percent year-over-year[i].
Magazines, TV and online sites fuel consumers’ appetites for new and unique interior décor options. To meet this demand, designers are updating wall décor across industries as varied as restaurants, hospitality, healthcare, and corporate offices. They are creating specialized environments and messages by printing larger-than-life images on a wall. This movement is enabled by digitally printed wall décor which makes on-demand, custom-printed wallcoverings and canvas prints a possibility.
Technology is available to design and then easily print custom wallcoverings on a variety of wallcovering media with great image quality and environmental benefits. Today’s designers are empowered to think bigger, bolder and more creatively than ever before. Now, virtually any color, pattern or substrate can be a canvas for personal photos, images, designs or patterns. As consumers are conditioned to expect and demand unlimited control over their decisions and purchase options, digital printing’s ability to create unique environments increasingly allows designers to give clients what they want, when they want it.
As powerful and lucrative as this growing segment is, it is critical for print service providers (PSPs) to understand that it is not an opportunity that will seize itself. Though digital décor is growing faster than the traditional sign and display industry, it is still a relatively new market that will require effort and focus to effectively capture business.
Following are three steps PSPs can take to capitalize on the digital décor opportunity.
The first is to recognize that interior décor business is not going to arrive effortlessly. As with any growing or emerging segment, it is quite possible that the decision makers—interior designers, architects and brand managers—may not be people with whom you have worked previously. To reach, engage and build relationships with them requires a concerted effort. Concerted—but not necessarily cumbersome. A good place to start is to designate a person to lead your firm’s décor business.
This person becomes the catalyst to pull together and create excitement for your firm’s digital décor business. Your décor business lead can:
- Reach out to and engage with the design community
- Ensure both your website and lobby prominently promote the high-quality digital wallcoverings you can produce
- Organize décor-focused open houses
- Create wallcovering print sample kits
- Develop your firm’s short- and long-term digital décor plans
To establish your company as an effective, long-term strategic design partner, it is critical to have a dedicated focus within your firm and a décor lead to head and carry out plans.
The second important step is focusing your décor sales effort. When you walk through your existing customer’s facilities, do you see wallcoverings that were produced by someone else? If so, point out additional walls or areas that could be enhanced and show them photos of your successful décor projects. Focus prospecting activities on an industry in which you already have a strong presence. Waiting rooms, hospital cafeterias, dentist offices and long-term care facilities are all using décor to improve the customer experience. Similarly, retail, corporate and educational institutions are also improving their environments with décor.
Success can also be found upstream from individual companies or clients. Are there local design associations or architectural communities with which you can connect? Remember, digital print is a rapidly improving technology. While education is vital, it can also be quite enjoyable. When a talented designer or architect sees what is now possible with digital printing—at lower costs and smaller runs than ever before—it can inspire an outpouring of enthusiasm and creativity.
Finally—and perhaps most importantly—it is critical that PSPs partner with a manufacturer that will serve as a strategic partner. There is far more that goes into establishing your company in this space than producing a print. The right printing equipment is a vital investment, but a printer in and of itself is not going to position your organization to take advantage of this opportunity.
PSPs often begin exploring digital décor with existing printing technology using materials with which they are familiar, such as self-adhesive vinyl with film laminates. While this is a good start, some technologies will limit your success. For example, aqueous ink printers are not effective in printing on highly requested textured wallcovering materials. At the same time, using a solvent or UV printer, which produces prints with an odor, can be a major issue as they outgas in a confined room. With these technologies, you will be at a disadvantage to competitors investing in more durable printing solutions with the environmental characteristics customers require.
A good digital print partner will be quick to understand and highlight the positive environmental characteristics of their wall décor solution. LEED, UL and other certifications as well as indoor air quality requirements are not a nice selling point, they are a must for interior décor.
HP Latex digital printers are ideal for printed wall décor, producing high image quality on a wide variety of coated, uncoated and textured wallcovering and canvas materials. HP Latex printers are available in entry-level 61-inch and production-volume 126-inch wide models. HP Latex water-based inks are odorless and emit no hazardous air pollutants,[ii] with recognized GREENGUARD GoldSM and UL ECOLOGO certifications[iii] to help ensure the first impression you make is not also your last.
In addition to latex printing technology, HP also offers the HP WallArt software package to help PSPs and their customers create wallcovering designs together through the cloud. This solution is provided at no cost for 12 months to HP Latex printer customers. In the tool, the designer can enter precise room dimensions and work the wall design around objects like windows and doors. The software generates realistic visualizations and print-ready files, so no specialized software or infrastructure is required to get started in wallcoverings.
PSPs looking to enter this market and capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunity could not be getting in at a better time. Incredible demand is creating big opportunity, while technical innovation is driving new solutions at more affordable costs, providing lower barriers for entry. HP Latex printers and the HP WallArt software solution are ideally suited for digital décor, enabling PSPs and designers to go big, bold and innovative in ways never before possible.
For an overview of digital décor opportunities and HP solutions, watch the digital décor video.
[i] Based on HP internal research.
[ii] Some substrates may have inherent odor. HP Latex Inks were tested for Hazardous Air Pollutants, as defined in the Clean Air Act, per U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Method 311 (testing conducted in 2013) and none were detected.