• Print Media Trends 2020 Interview with Jill Walsh

With all the recent changes in the Australian market, we wanted to reach out to one of our product experts to determine if there’s been any evident trends in products or buying changes.  

We spoke with Jill one of our business development managers based in Queensland on what she has seen over the last few months with trends and insights in the print media industry.  

It was clear from this interview that there were four main trends that have undoubtedly been impacted by COVID-19 and the everchanging atmosphere of how a business operates in this ‘new normal’.  

The trends we discovered are: 

  1. Wallpapers for the business re-vamping their locations AND the home renovators refreshing their homes 

  1. Increased requirements from the Australian Government to have Australian fire rated products for commercial and public infrastructures 

  1. Signage businesses have been using printable products to implement social distancing and important COVID-19 operational updates 

  1. Sustainable and locally sourced products are becoming more popular than cheaper alternatives 


Trend 1 - Wallpaper: For the business re-vamping their locations AND the home renovators refreshing their homes 

Q: How has COVID-19 encouraged people to tackle upgrades around the home and business?  

When a lot of businesses had to shut and restrictions were in place, people were stuck at home, and during that time wallpaper seemed to increase in sales. So, it was one of those things where I suppose businesses and individuals contacted signwriting places and requested wallpaper to decorate their space. It seemed to be a big trend during that initial COVID period, where wallpaper became an in-demand product for both commercial customers and our home renovators. 
In the commercial space, our customers tend to go for the Dreamscape range of wallpapers because they are commercial grade. This means they are very tough, fire retardant to Australian standards and are supported by a warranty. Perfect for when you're in a restaurant where people are going to be touching the walls or spilling food on it. 
The Dreamscape wallpapers can be mounted using commercially available wallpaper adhesives, so it is best a professional installer completes the job. The beauty of these products is the fact that they can be steamed off clean once finished with. So, if in three or four years you want to rebrand the restaurant or store, it can be steamed off clean. 
And then on the residential side, many people like the idea of a traditional wallpaper while others want something they can put up themselves. If they don't want to rely on an installer coming in to do it for them, that’s where we can offer a self-adhesive product. The self-adhesive wallpaper is quite easy for the residential customer to put up themselves and easy to remove when they want.  

When it comes to short term wallpaper needs, clients will generally use 
self-adhesive product. Our Dreamscape range actually has four textures that are self-adhesive, repositionable and easy to remove. This is ideal for those clients in a retail situation, where it might be the seasonal special, like a spring fashion sale. They can do the walls with the Dreamscape self-adhesive wallpaper, and then when spring is over and they want to do a summer sale, take that down and put up a new campaign.  

have also seen the same product used in home situation too where a customer might want to decorate their daughters’ room in unicorns, well and truly knowing in a years’ time it probably won’t be unicorns she’s interested in anymore.  

Trend 2 - Australian fire rated products for commercial and public infrastructures: 

In recent times more and more building projects are requiring fire-rated products to be used for decoration of interiors and exterior signage of public and private buildings. Meaning our products need to prove their quality and accreditation.  

Ricky as a company has gone to the expense of having most of our wallpapers tested to Australian standards for fire retardancy, which is very important, especially in the commercial spaceMost commercial spaces now insist on using fire retardant products both in and outdoors. Not all wallpapers on the market in Australia actually meet those Australian standards. You should always check if the product has been tested and request a copy of the certificate.  
Some of the products we’ve seen most commonly used that holds an Australian FR testing result include Dreamscape Wallpaper range and signage mesh including our PROMOMESH FRRICKYFLEX FR and SAMBA FR ranges. 
Trend 3 - Signage businesses have been using printable products to implement social distancing and important COVID-19 business updates: 
Q: The recent times have come with many changeto how businesses operate, what have you noticed in this aspect? 
Well, back in March when the whole country was in panic mode and we were being told to social distance, we saw a huge request come through from all over the country for products suitable for floor graphicsSales in our vinyl floor products increased for that exact reason, for businesses to be able to show social distancing spots. You would've seen them all over the place, like banks, Woolworths, Coles, railway stations, pretty much everywhere you go. 
So luckily, we already had onboard a product called Pro Floor, which is a textured slip-resistant self-adhesive vinyl for floors. It'll stick to concrete, carpet, tiles, a myriad of surfacesThe R11 slip rating is close to the highest standard you can have in Australia. That means the product can be used quite comfortably in a shopping centre or on the floors in a hospitalIt also has a P3 test for oils and grease, so that also means it can also be used in restaurants without the risk of slipping. 

hen it came down to it, I think there was a lot of people just grabbing whatever they could because there was a massive shortage of in-floor vinyl. Everybody was sold out. People started to use a less quality product, then started to realise that if somebody slips over in my store there's massive litigation factors to face and that kind of thing. This created a huge demand for our Pro Floor vinyl. We continue to see this demand for our product today. 

Businesses have changed so much during this period and many that were shut are now re-opening but opening with all these new restrictions and practices in place. I think as more industries start to open their doors, such as the entertainment industry and things like that, the demand will continue to be there, this need for high-quality sticker material, it’s not going to go away. 

Q: Of course, so of course the COVID-19 signage has been popular recently, however, I imagine these products can be used for more than just floor graphics? 

Absolutely, you can use this product on walls, it doesn't have to be just for floor graphics. I have customers that have successfully used it for a nice texture image on their walls. With the changes to businesses during COVID-19, a big demand for signage has arisen, like window graphics using our Ricky pro stick product. People are doing banners with our RICKYFLEX product as they open back up, saying 'yes, we are open new trading hours'. You know, we've been seeing a lot of that around. 
Or even when you walk into some businesses now and they must show their COVID plan with how they're protecting you, the customer. With that, even products like Poster Paper have been in high demand.  
Q: Tell me more about the poster papers? 
The Poster Plus Pro is material in high demand at the moment and it is an actual paper, with a wet streak. We’re seeing many shopfront businesses will have outside of their shop a little stall with their COVID plan showing, hand sanitiser, things like that. Using a product like Poster Plus Pro, being a wet strength product, if it's a rainy day even though it might be under an awning, the moisture in the air is not going to destroy the paper. So, it's a really good option to use in those circumstances. 
To sum up the COVID signage trend, I think now that a lot of businesses have been using some of these products for their COVID plan they can see that hopefully down the track when COVID is over, they can still utilise these same type of products for advertising. For example, the self-adhesive vinyl on the glass to advertise a sale. Or even instead of having their COVID plan up at the front entrance, it could be introducing an upcoming sale. I think companies and people are now aware of some of these products that they probably weren't aware of before and I think there's going to be place for these kinds of products moving forward no matter what. With the whole world-changingbusinesses have been forced to change as well and use new and innovative products.  
Trend 4 - Sustainable and locally sourced products are becoming more popular than cheaper alternatives: 
Q: Tell me more about your sustainable products and how you see that being a trend, what have been popular products during this time and what are your thoughts on that? 

Well, people have been talking about sustainable products for quite a few years now. In the early days, it was what everybody wanted but it was too expensive to use. But, a lot of work has been done over the years to improve that and get the costs down. 

So now we can offer sustainable products and people will actually buy and use them. Whereas in the past it was like, businesses wanted to use sustainable products, but the cost was simply too high. Now that things have changed and there is an ever-growing need and push for business to be 'green' and sustainable, we're starting to see products like billboards, being made from sustainable materials. As opposed to the traditional PVC material, which is not environmentally friendly, ends up in landfill and never breaks down. 
So there are companies that we import from like Berger Textiles in Europe, that have a new PVC free product, which could be used for billboards and the cost isn't too high. Yes, the cost is still higher than a PVC product, but there isn't this massive gap in the price differences any more. 
You would’ve noticed many large companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and other worldwide leading brands like to be seen as sustainable using clean green packaging etc... I think this has really driven the sustainable trend up. Organisations don't want to be seen as not caring for the planet. So, there has been a massive increase in the purchase of sustainable products over the last 18 months, and even more so now where I think people are aware of cheaper PVC products coming out of Asia. The current world circumstances are driving people to purchase Australian made products or even European and American made products and these are the countries that are making sustainable products. 
So as mentioned, there's everything from billboard materials to exhibition and display fabrics that are recyclable or made from recycled products. We've got four products from Berger Textiles that are actually made from recycled plastic bottles. The yarn is made from plastic bottles that they melt down and turn into a fibre and then into actual fabric. It's incredible what can be done these days. They're extremely sustainable because, for one, they're made from recycled products and two, they're recyclable themselves. 
Wwork with another company in Europe who have introduced a self-adhesive product which is PVC free. In the past, general signage had to be used with a product that has PVCs and polymers in it. This new European product is completely PVC free. So that's another green alternative we have in our sustainable range. Another bonus about these products is that some of them have fire retardancy. 
The dreamscape wallpaper range for example are sustainable and have the fire retardancy built-in. Everybody wins, the prices have come down from what they used to be, and we're saving our planet and reducing landfill. The client gets to feel good that they're using sustainable products and it's great for our customers to be able to offer their clients these options. 

Q: Do you find your customers are requesting not only sustainable but also that inbuilt fire retardancy product? 

Absolutely, a lot of the time my customer is the manufacturer. So, their customers, which would be the brand or the company has come to them with those requirements for fire retardancy and sustainability. It is great that we can offer them a few different products with varied price ranges. It's important when they're choosing between the products, we give them the specs and comparisons so they can make an informed buying decision. 

Q: Great thanks, do you have anything else on sustainable products that you want to share or actually, do you have anything else on any of your print media trends that you want to share? 

These are really the main trends happening at the moment. We're pretty blessed at Ricky because we are a very diverse company that covers three different industries and we have an extensive range of products within our portfolio.  
We're not like many of our competitors in the print industry because we only supply the print media product itself, not printers or any other addons. We specialise in print media products, it's what we're good at and a lot of our customers know that. That's why they come to us. They know we're the experts and we have any product they need.