I’ve seen a lot of surveys on digital printing adoption over the years, but the one conducted by NAPCO Research and commissioned by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) stood out to me. Why? Because it included something I rarely see in digital printing surveys—the use of digital printing across the entire buyer’s journey.

The study, titled “Personalization and Digital Printing: Retail Marketers’ Secret Weapon,” found that more than 80% of retailers are using digital printing for direct mail and between 62% and 79% are using it for promotional products, packaging, and signage. That was the super cool part—broadening the survey to cover digitally printed products across the entire journey, not just the customer acquisition portion.  

Also encouraging was that retailers saw benefits beyond increased response rates. Nearly half (49%) cited higher customer engagement as a top benny gained from digital printing programs and communications. Tied for second are two hard-to-quantify benefits—better marketing and branding—both at 47%. This points to digital printing’s acceptance for other stages of the customer journey, including packaging and signage, where the value cannot always be tied directly to sales.

What would cause retailers to boost their use of digital print even further? According to the survey, they are looking for turnkey programs to meet specific needs, such as sending retargeting postcards based on browsing history.  Give them plug and play, it seems, and they’re all ears.  Other ways to help them boost their digital printing use is to help them sort through the right data partners, get executive buy-in, and improve their ability to do customer profiling. 

This wasn’t a detailed survey, but it contained some useful numbers that we don’t always see. It reflects a market vertical where there is still a lot of room for growth. To tease out that growth, however, it will take data expertise, program development, and proactivity—getting to these retailers before they bring those applications in-house.

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