Celebrating 25 years delivering exceptional print

The Edit. managing the effect of the paper price increase, part 1

We were recently able to demonstrate to a client that by reducing text paper from 70gsm to 65gsm whilst retaining the same cover weight, an immediate paper saving of seven per cent could be achieved without any detriment to the “feel” of the brochure or print image quality. We demonstrated this initially with plain paper dummies and subsequently confirmed this with a live split run test. As the client’s brochure is a Small Letter format it has also allowed for a higher pagination for products and marketing messages while remaining under 100g for postal optimisation.

Tip 2. Review brochure paginations

It is always worth checking that you are utilising the optimum page count. For example, a client had been producing an 80pp A5 self cover on 70gsm weighing 87g. However, after reviewing their marketing objectives, in particular their desire for additional selling space, we introduced a 96pp self cover on 65gsm weighing 97g. This has dramatically reduced the average cost per page (higher paper cost but lower print cost) and offered 20 per cent more product selling space for their growing product range.

Tip 3. Optimise your format size to avoid waste

Before you fall in love with a format that your brilliant creative team has suggested, check that it can be produced efficiently.

If your brochure is produced web-offset, it’s worth reviewing your format and the amount of unnecessary paper cut to waste from the fixed cut-off (cylinder circumference) of the press. Re-designing the catalogue to a more economical format may be a big step but reducing the amount of paper cut to waste could be a quick win. For example, on a large format brochure, utilising the maximum paper in the cut-off by increasing the format height from say 275mm to the full 297mm possible will give you eight per cent more selling space for the same paper cost. It might also allow you to reduce page count by a similar percentage, enabling postal weights to remain much the same.

The Royal Mail’s Small Letter size (240 x 165mm) is a perfect fit for sheet-fed printing but can be dreadfully wasteful on paper when print volumes rise to levels more suitable for web-offset presses but where 17 per cent of paper will be cut to waste. There is a complaint that A5 is “samey” but in economically straitened times do not dismiss the potential of this standard size and instead challenge your creatives to visually differentiate your brand and products in this smaller format!

With zero paper waste, highly efficient production and the opportunity to increase pagination whilst keeping under 100g, the commercial benefit of the A5 format could be very interesting!

Tip 4. Consider new grades with higher bulk

There is no doubt that the look, feel and heft of a catalogue or brochure influences the reader’s perception of a brand. Mill groups recognise that clients are unable to raise more revenue to cover the additional costs of brochure paper so have introduced bulkier grades which look and feel more substantial. This enables lower paper substances to be considered which reduce tonnage requirements. Good examples of this are a 65gsm silk grade which has a bulk of 1.0 so doesn’t feel significantly lighter than a 70gsm silk which bulks at 0.95. Similarly, a 54gsm silk which has a high bulk of 1.1 so feels similar to a traditional 60gsm with only a marginal loss of brightness and opacity. The yield savings on these grades will deliver paper cost saving of at least five per cent.

Tip 5. Improved News grades

‘Improved news’ grades have a higher brightness than traditional newsprint, broadening their use to a wider range of commercial printing including inserts and catalogues. Holmen have a number of high bulking ‘improved news’ grades which print well by both web-offset and gravure processes. A 52gsm bulking at 1.3 with brightness and opacity levels close to standard 65gsm LWC offers a good alternative and could save c. £80/tonne with a 20 per cent yield saving.

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