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About Allan Consulting : Industry Challenges

Analysts have worked hard to understand why the printing paper industry has struggled in the last dozen years. But any discussion of that question which doesn’t start with the printing paper mill’s customer is doomed to miss the point. Without printers – and their customers – this industry has no reason for being.

Ultimately, every dollar that flows into a printing paper mill can traced to two individuals: a reader, and somebody who wants to sell the reader a product or a service. When the home buyer chooses to pick up a Realtor magazine or the real estate section of the local daily newspaper – or to go directly to a real estate web site – that decision, and countless similar ones, affects the bottom line of the paper supplier.

Today, as more of those decisions favor the web site, an increasing number of publishers are facing a tough decision: are they in the business of creating a printed product – or in the business of putting readers or shoppers together with marketers and their products, regardless of the medium that is used?

This decision has huge implications for the printer or publisher with capital sunk into printing presses – and even bigger implications for the papermaker. The publisher may decide to sell its presses and sign a printing contract for its remaining print business; the commercial printer may shift its investments into direct marketing services and marketing logistics – but it’s challenging for the papermaker to walk away from all those trees, that recycling equipment, those paper mills, and the people who work with them.

At the same time, papermakers are not yet in the business of being dinosaur farmers. Some newspaper publishers are still doing very well. Some magazine publishers are expanding their portfolio of titles. Some online merchandisers are even launching print catalogs to complement their electronic marketing channels.

Understanding the shifting needs of the printing paper industry’s customers – and even the shifting nature of those customers – is central to developing a path to a healthier future for the printing paper manufacturer. And identifying the potential pathways for success in the industry is key for the investor who hopes to find the nugget of opportunity in the midst of all this seeming chaos.

Allan Consulting knows this very well, and considers the challenge of understanding the industry’s customers to be one of the most important building blocks to success for anybody with exposure to the printing paper business.

We make it our job to look down the path to see where those customers are going. We work with our clients to identify opportunity in that vision. Seeing the forest for the trees depends on looking through the trees to see the customer.