Not your Father’s Personalization: The Future of VDP Applications

The next time you go to your mailbox, take a hard look at what you bring in.

Personalization today has reached a new level of mainstream. It used to be that the simple inclusion of your name, company affiliation, or recent purchases would be enough to capture your attention. Today, it’s not so much a ‘nice to have’, but rather a necessity. Without some form of personalization, your communication almost doesn’t stand a chance.
And while the complexity and creativity needed for variable data to thrive is a separate discussion, the critical nature of personalization cannot be ignored.
Traditionally, personalization has gained momentum in the Direct Mail and Transactional markets, but today its growth can be seen elsewhere.  Examples include NikeID, allowing consumers to personalize their shoes from the color scheming to having their name embroidered onto the tongue. There’s even a personalized M&M’S® program, MyM&Ms, where you can actually build your own candy.
I realize these are not classic print applications, but the message is clear, personalization is everywhere.

Growing Variable Data Print Application Opportunities 

Let’s move a little closer to home and talk about print-related personalized opportunities for you and your business.  One of the fastest growing segments in 1:1 communication-related products is photo publishing.  Typically template driven, these products allow end users to input personal text and images to create a variety of products including calendars, greeting cards, photo books, and even personalized wrapping paper for the holidays.
Another area primed for tremendous growth in the near future is Digital Packaging.  The two primary benefits of digital versus offset packaging are flexibility and personalization.  Examples include industry’s such as pharmaceutical and retail, where changing legal requirements and SKUs can quickly render inventory as obsolete, whereas digitally printed solutions can quickly adapt and produce packaging on demand.  The 1:1 capabilities of digital print solutions allow a customer’s specific information to be integrated automatically within the packaging production. This can help simplify shipping and tracking or to create more value with a personalized application like gift boxes.
The InfoTrends U.S. Digital Printing Application Forecast predicts that Books and Manuals will be the fastest growing digital print application between now and 2017.  The ability to personalize via an order versus the printed piece is another area where I have seen tremendous success stories born. Think higher education and a solution where students and teachers can create custom curriculums and have the ability to handpick and create the required printed course materials on the fly. For example, this semester’s course pack may include chapters 1, 2, and 3, while next semester the course pack is chapter, 1, 3, and 5. With digital print solutions, this isn’t a problem. The materials and contents can be personalized to deliver more value.
While there will always be a place for the “Dear Tod” letter, personalization is quickly becoming commonplace in other print applications, enabling growth for many print providers. Today’s combination of automated workflow and print technology is making these opportunities much easier to reach than ever before.
To learn more about the workflow tools available from Xerox that easily enable personalized print, please visit

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