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HomeAssociationsBMPA Print Summit 2024 (PS24): Innovation and sustainability will make us unstoppable

BMPA Print Summit 2024 (PS24): Innovation and sustainability will make us unstoppable

28 February 2024: Print Summit 2024, the 16th edition of the BMPA’s flagship one-day conference, was themed around ‘Being Unstoppable’. Nine hundred and nineteen print and packaging industry delegates attended the event at the Tata Theatre, NCPA, interacted with 16 speakers. According to Amit Shah, President of BMPA, the key takeaways for us from PS24 are 1] innovation anchored to solving common sense issues faced by our customers, 2] transparency and building bonds with people – from our employees to customers, 3] sustainability is going to be an exponential growth driver in the future, and 4] building businesses with the vision to delegate and let-go to find new avenues of growth and profitability.

Opening the conference, Amit Shah shared examples of many global companies that have demonstrated unstoppable spirit with their spectacular growth and pathbreaking innovations over the years. “Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Tesla…all these companies have unstoppable attitude. Innovation is at the heart of these companies’ operations and growth mindset,” he added.

Highlighting the progress and the pressing need for the paperisation of packaging, Prabhakar Venneti, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Commercial at ITC-PSPD, presented some convincing statistics throughout his presentation. In the presentation, he noted that global plastic production exceeded the total waste management capacity. This grave situation necessitates drastically lowering plastic consumption, particularly single-use plastic consumption. He also highlighted that India is among the few global economies contributing about half the global plastic waste collectively.

He referred to a McKinsey study demonstrating that globally, and even Indian consumers, highly score paper and paperboard packaging. This customer preference is noteworthy because, with the growing Indian economy, consumption of goods and services is poised to grow. It will also boost the demand for and the consumption of packaging across many industries and sectors. Packaged food, pharmaceuticals, and personal care are the rapidly growing product segments, while the relentless growth of e-commerce will push the demand for corrugated board packaging. “India’s virgin board production is about 25% while the 75% share is of recycled carton board,” Prabhakar highlighted the domestic recycled-fibre success story.

Before concluding his presentation, Prabhakar did not forget to highlight the true meaning and the benefits of the paperisation of packaging and his company’s efforts in enabling this transition. He shared tangible examples of how liquid-barrier paper and paperboard applications replace single-use plastic disposables in the food and beverages market. However, he also admits the need to develop paper-based barrier products for applications in the food delivery market. The next frontier of paper-based application transformation is indoor branding – point of sales (POS) and point of sales merchandise (POSM), in particular. He shared information about ITC’s specially developed laminated paperboard – Signup Green – to replace rigid plastic and foam boards from the POS/POSM segment.

Priyata Raghavan, Deputy CEO of Sai Packaging and Sai Security Printers, admitted to ‘listening and learning’ from people running the business for many years. She said that when she joined the company, she had no technical knowledge of printing because her training was on the business side; earlier, she had worked with ITC in sales. “There were hardly any women in the organisation then – be it management or shop-floor. Over the years, however, we’ve managed to build an organisation that listens to each other,” she said with pride and joy. It is now a part of Sai’s DNA to encourage ideas from people across the company, listen to them with utmost attention, and leverage this “DNA of dialogue” for the organisation’s growth.

“When I joined the business, we were also catapulting towards the packaging business. As women, we have an innate knowledge of consumer markets, which helps us interact with brands,” Priyata underlines the unique perspectives women bring to the table to support organisational growth. She was primarily referring to the distinct insights women can potentially offer, for instance, about how packaging is used in the real world, or how it could be made better for the end-user delight, and to make packaging outlast its purpose and prevent it from going into the landfill immediately after its first intended use. “It has all helped us see packaging from the consumer’s point of view and not just as a product,” she highlighted.

Siddhi Shah, CEO of PrintStop India, told the audience that the co-founders’ vision was to make a profitable business and grow on their terms from day one. That is why they avoided funding all these years and the valuation game. However, the core leadership team has pivoted the business from time to time to leverage technology.

PrintStop entered the e-commerce business and focused on the B2B business for ample opportunity and disruption of the market. “We want to change the way enterprises do business with printers. We are not comfortable with kickbacks,” she informed the audience about how they developed the technology platform to handle every enterprise client’s requirement transparently -from interaction, onboarding, ordering and approvals, invoicing and payments to delivery tracking.

For Siddhi, asking the question ‘why’ and not taking things at face value are the key factors in business. She has instilled this culture in her organisation. “It is essential to understand the essence of what we are doing, why we are doing it. If one understands it deeply, one can question it. And then, one can have space to suggest improvements,” she explained how she has successfully created a culture of innovation in the organisation. She also said that we must allow our people to go wrong and fail while innovating, albeit without losing the focus on identifying and solving some critical issues they have identified by asking ‘why’.

Zeenia K Patel, COO – JAK Printers, steered away from a successful skating career abroad. A design student by training, she “never wanted to be in printing.” And yet, she has earned her leadership position in JAK Printers, a legacy printer, and the industry.

“My father opened a design studio in JAK Printers for me. He asked me why I don’t work with our family business and add value. And that’s how I entered the company,” she remembered the genesis of her journey in print while underlining that she was not ready to enter the printing business. She joined on only one condition: she wouldn’t manage the company beyond the design studio. However, she soon realised that if she involved herself in production, her design execution would improve drastically, and she got into production. Within a few months, she gained confidence that she could convince the customer because she knew so much about production and already had command over design concepts. That’s how she began interacting with the clients and got into sales. With this desire to explore and do more, she realised that she was managing the business and didn’t have the urge to return to the design studio’s limited confines. “I never thought print was going to be my home, but it is,” Zeenia said with conviction and determination. Through the journey, she has realised how her teammate’s ideas, her design refinement, and her production’s meticulous planning and execution make the product come alive and delight the end customers.

Sanaa Vasi, Partner at Triace, firmly believes that “if one knows the business and the core subject thoroughly well, the gender doesn’t play any role.” With her background in advertising, entry into packaging wasn’t easy for Sanaa, despite her passion for printing. She took effort and keen interest in learning the nitty-gritty of the packaging converting business to achieve professional growth and success and command the respect of clients in the market. She confidently shared that “my clients look at me as a problem solver” because of my command over my domain of expertise – packaging.

Sanaa shared a fascinating story from her life. She praised her father for guiding her through business. Still, she said that entering the family business and taking her father’s legacy forward has given her immense satisfaction and a sense of achievement. She and her family come from a small town. As a girl-child, she grew up living up to and imbibing a lot of gender-specific expectations. “Growing up, I couldn’t express myself fully. Even though I was a good student, I hardly shared my opinions. But in business, my father asked me what I thought. It gave me a voice, self-identity and a sense of self-worth. And my opinions were taken very seriously,” she shared, acknowledging that this initial transformation remains the most cherished moment.

“We were looking to expand our business. We wanted to invest in new machinery. And we figured out that the short-run market was still untapped. Moreover, digital was the natural way forward for our investments.” Tania Hansoti, Director of Sales and Marketing, S. Kumar Multiproducts, added, “We were in the volume business, but the short run was a missed business opportunity. My father-in-law showed full faith in me, and that’s how we entered the short-run market.” Interestingly, this conscious addition to the business has witnessed much success in Tania’s company, not just from the revenue point of view but also with enhanced margins per job in the past few years.

She had no knowledge of printing. However, her father-in-law gave her complete freedom to run the new department within the business. She relied on her instincts as she began cold-calling the brands and pitching her company as their printing partner. “So I use a particular lotion; I called them. I informed them that we were ready to do small quantities. Some companies were launching seven SKUs to test the market. They didn’t want to invest 500-1,000 labels in the first go. So we took up the challenge,” she recalled her initial days. However, she also highlighted that selling the idea within the company was initially challenging. “We were used to printing quantities in millions. And there I was, asking my team to put on hold the large-quantity job to complete my small job because I had the delivery in three days. They straightaway told me that it wouldn’t happen. They cannot work like that,” however, she stressed that the same people see the value the small quantities have added because the same brand placing the small-quantity orders a few years ago is amongst the largest skincare companies in the country today. Tania thinks that her creative vision and patient interaction with people have brought her the success the small-quantities business enjoys within her company.

Moderator and BMPAs former president Iqbal Kherodawala’s simple, quick, and thought-provoking questions allowed these women to share their stories in print. Throughout this session, however, these businesswomen firmly and squarely communicated that they were successful leaders in their own right. They may have been encouraged and supported by the men in the family and the business, but these women have earned their leadership positions with sheer talent, hard work, and grit. That’s why they want to be identified as ‘business leaders’ and not necessarily as ‘women leaders’ in the print and packaging industry.

Acclaimed theatre and media professional and the Co-founder of Kommune Roshan Abbas talked about the bright future of print in the digital age. “Print resurgence is happening around the world and in India,” he opened the presentation with a confident, reassuring statement.

He supported his big statement with facts and numbers from different sources. Much of the data globally suggests that many millennials are online. However, they are also fond of physical media. GenZ, on the other hand, is the born-digital generation. It voraciously consumes digital content and, therefore, sees value in physical mediums. They want a more distraction-free experience. For example, a study suggests 67% of GenZ wants a physical over a digital-only invite for events. About 62% of GenZ want physical books in college. Globally, GenZ wants tactile experiences. They want and value collectibles. For instance, McDonald’s burger packaging that, upon opening, converted into a small table for the food was much loved and appreciated in the market.

Interestingly, “aesthetics is the key experience for the GenZ” and younger generations. Therefore, we can globally see mobile screens becoming the preferred personal screens for movies while big screens at the theatre are steering towards more experiential and experimental content delivery.

Roshan vehemently advocates that printers innovate their products to deliver more exciting experiences to end customers, especially young consumers. And he is confident that the markets will receive such products well.

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