Article: International Paper focuses on office paper with new concepts
| 04 September, 2015
HP Everyday Light 70gsm has been launched to meet growing demand for lower substance papers in some regions.
What are your current projects?
On a worldwide basis, International Paper is focusing on 2 main business platforms: uncoated paper - mostly office paper - and packaging. As far as EMEA is concerned, we have recently completed a €20M investment in our Saillat mill, located in the French Limousin region, to further reduce water emissions and offer customers an even more environmentally friendly product portfolio. This is another example of International Paper’s commitment to bringing the sustainable economy to life. The project was supported by local and national French and European agencies, notably the European Union, through the Limousin Region, and the Loire-Brittany Water Agency. Besides this investment, we have many exciting new ongoing developments:
- Our “easy opening system” for paper reams to enable end-users to open reams hassle free and make their life easier.
- A Printing App which enables end-users to print from mobile devices like iPhones or Android phones or tablets. This further demonstrates that paper solutions go hand in hand with technology advancement.
- We are also developing a larger presence in social media and further enhancing our on line “content”
What trends are you seeing in terms of product demand in Europe?
On a global scale, office paper consumption continues to increase mostly in fast developing emerging markets, while Europe has been facing a structural decline of paper consumption in recent years. It is important to note that paper consumption is correlated to the maturity of economies and therefore differs between Western end Eastern European countries. Paper consumption is also linked to economical growth and white collar employment. While office paper demand was stable between 2012 and 2013, we noticed a slight erosion in 2014 (approximately – 1.5% versus 2013). Although it is difficult to predict we expect a similar development in the years to come.
Actually, the usage of paper has changed. It is more and more used as work in progress (reading, commenting, correcting etc…) rather than archiving. Considering the regular and drastic increase of information available at your finger tips which I would call “content”, it is likely that paper consumption will remain important. Many surveys highlight the benefits of paper. For example, a recent survey into the preferences of consumers for printed versus digital communications, commissioned by Two Sides and undertaken by international research company Toluna, sought the opinions and preferences of consumers in the UK and in the US on a number of issues relating to the switch from paper-based to digital media. Results highlighted that 84% of respondents understood, retained or used information that had been printed and read on paper much better than information received on a digital device while 83% stated a clear preference for reading print on paper for more complex topics. The survey also revealed 79% found printed media more relaxing to read, while 60% of mobile/smart phone users (rising to 71% amongst the 18 – 24 year olds) were concerned about how these devices were damaging their health (eye strain, headaches, insomnia). Overall, the survey reported that 79% of respondents preferred to read print on paper when given the choice.
We see that consumers don´t really want a paperless office, but would rather have responsible and sustainable paper production and consumption. I would even argue that end users may actually print more if printing was made easier for them.
How are you adding value to end-users?
End users expect paper usage to be a painless experience. At International Paper we have very tight quality controls to ensure quality consistency and to make sure end-user printing is totally hassle free. For example, our Pro Design color laser brand is guaranteed 99.9% jam free.
We have also built specific features into our products to make life easier for the end-user. For years we have had a re-sealable packaging for consumers that don’t use all the paper in one go. Another example is A3 boxes with only 3 reams in the box, making it easier to carry. This year we have added an easy opening system to a number of our HP, Rey and POL products. Perfectly known to consumers from packs of cigarettes, bubble gum or cookies, tear-strip opening has been added to the ream wrapper to make its opening easier, faster and hassle free. The feedback from the end-users has been unanimously positive. We are constantly looking for opportunities to enhance the end-user experience.
In what ways are you differentiating yourself in a competitive market?
First of all, as far as uncoated paper is concerned, International Paper has a clear strategic focus on office papers and offers attractive and efficient supply for the entire EMEA market through our global multi-mill system, which as such differentiates us from other players.
In addition, two critical elements are to work closely with channel partners and to take innovative approaches to create value for customers and end-users. When it comes to channel partners, close integration in the area of supply chain, sales and marketing is very important to add value both to them and to end-users.
In a highly commoditized market, strong brands are also an important differentiating factor. International Paper is the exclusive manufacturer of HP Everyday Papers, which we have grown year after year in a declining market. HP Everyday Papers now ranks among the top paper brands in Europe in terms of spontaneous awareness, geographic coverage and volume sold. POL is the leading paper brand in Poland and Rey sales across Europe have also been growing consistently. We are currently in the process of totally rejuvenating our Rey brand with a new value proposition.
Interestingly to note, environmental aspects, corporate social responsibility and business ethics are evolving to become standard expectations in the market. This speaks very highly of the role that societies can play in shaping the markets that serve them.
What are the latest developments for HP Everyday Papers?
International Paper is constantly seeking how to improve our products to make them more convenient and easier to use for end users. As mentioned, this year, a perfect example of such efforts is our easy opening system that has been introduced to our main brands: Rey, POL and HP Everyday Papers.
Moreover HP Everyday Papers (HPEDP) is designed to meet all printing needs of EMEA consumers and therefore it has the widest range of products in our portfolio. As a response to the growing demand in some regions for lower substance papers, we are introducing a new product, HP Everyday Light 70gsm, to the standard HPEDP range.
International Paper is not only looking at product improvements. We are also aiming at making printing easy for consumers in general. Happy2Print, mobile printing application, available free of charge in all Europe for everybody who wants to print from mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) has been launched 2 months ago and received very positive feedback. The Happy2Print app is unique because of its ability to work with all printers regardless of the brand. It has been designed to replicate printing from a personal computer and therefore is extremely user friendly and straightforward to use. Thorough testing throughout the development process has led to a robust mobile print solution, which places a high value on user experience.
Do you see further market consolidation?
From the supply side some suppliers are currently repurposing uncoated wood free assets to other business areas. Without speculating on future developments you could argue that the trend might continue in the future. We have also been noticing consolidation in the distribution channels with both paper distributors and office products suppliers.
Which ecolabels are most important?
FSC®, PEFC and EU Flower are well known and important to everyone involved (from supplier to end-user). At International Paper we have 6 strategic focus areas when it comes to sustainability: next to Forest Stewardship we also have Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Water Use, Ethics&Compliance, Stakeholder engagement and Safety. All of these are tracked and measured in our sustainability report and are part of our own 2020 goals. Via CEPI we are also supporting the Product Environmental Footprint pilot for intermediate paper products that is being run jointly with the European Commission.
We believe sustainability is extremely important and applaud all initiatives that work in this direction. However, as an industry, if we want to remain impactful we must communicate clearly and not confuse end-users with too many different schemes and initiatives.