After exhibiting at the Retail Design Expo for the first time this year, Contra Vision walked away determined to help educate the wider creative market about the more unusual possibilities of see-through graphics. Here the company shares some of the insight gleaned from conversations at the show.
Each of us in the print, graphics and related businesses look for the right venue to promote our products and expertise. Exhibiting at the Retail Design Expo this March was a first for Contra Vision, forming a key part of its initiative to develop the market for see-through graphics for the company, its print partners and ultimately for end clients.
The show’s audience - specifically retail designers, interior designers, brand owners and creative agencies - provided a valuable source of information on how companies can work together to increase business opportunities. By attending Retail Design Expo, Contra Vision not only got to talk to existing and potential print clients, but also to hear directly from specifiers/end clients about working together on see-through graphic applications. The upshot is that Contra Vision learned a great deal from the exchange, much of which it’s happy to share here in the hope of increasing business possibilities for all.
Many printers increasingly specify ‘Contra Vision’ as a way of creating a variety of see-through graphic opportunities and the company is of course keen to ensure that printers and their clients are kept up to date with what can be achieved and how our commitment to innovation and the continuous development of the range can develop the market.
Although most printers have an awareness of see-through graphic materials, over 50% of visitors to the company’s stand at Retail Design Expo were new to see-through graphics as a concept - and the majority of visitors were surprised at the range of applications see-through graphics can offer.
While most immediate associated the technique with with bus windows and transport wraps, there was a distinct lack of knowledge as to how see-through graphics can be used as a creative medium - even among printers that have worked with Contra Vision over the last 20 years! Clearly there are lessons to be learned from this, the most obvious being that the success of a particular product for a particular kind of project can lead to it being pigeonholed into that one category without active communication between suppliers, printers and those that might benefit from wider range of creative possibilities for the product.
‘Contra Vision’ is often used as a generic term - much like Hoover or Sellotape - but often clients request it without specifying a brand. Unfortunately, this means the range of materials and different transparency options - such as 20% or 30% - may not be considered, so the optimum effects might not be understood.
Perhaps PSPs can learn from the feedback Contra Vision received from the ‘millennial generation’ (those born between 1980-1995) where awareness of see-through graphics is very limited, perhaps because of the preponderance of digital media. By presenting some of the more creative uses of see-though graphics, many visitors to Retail Design Expo were genuinely amazed at the concept and the capability of the range of materials available.
The Retail Design Expo delivered a real mix of potential clients - from premiership football teams, luxury goods, real-estate, education and entertainment. At the show Contra Vision realised that potential end-users were keen to understand more about product capabilities, and to have the option of working with the company in a consultancy role to advise them or their print partners on product choices and new capabilities. There is clearly an increasing appetite for companies like Contra Vision to work more closely with printers and their clients to ensure regular updates on products and applications - a win/win situation for everyone, as greater knowledge can only increase sales. To this end, Contra Vision is now offering a consultancy option to all printers who are either asked for see-through graphics, or are in a position to suggest different creative media to their clients.
Agencies visiting Retail Design Expo also provided insights into how see-through print is specified. The allocation of spend and the specification of products is of course done at the planning stage by either the in-house marketing team or through the design agency or architect’s recommendation. There was a resolute feeling that although digital is integral to almost all marketing and customer communication activity, there would always be a need for static promotion. Digital is key, but printed see-through graphics can deliver high tech options which can play with lighting conditions, turn any large area of glass into a giant billboard and add value to the built environment. Recent examples of this include the many building wraps at Salford Media City, which have been used to promote TV shows like ‘The Voice’ or the wrapping of an elevator in Bloomingdales in the USA with striking images of actress Kate Hudson promoting a retail clothing brand.
As an aside, perhaps another insight from the show could help each of us manage our presence at exhibitions in a way that improves the experience of visitors, many of whom will be potential clients. Many visitors said that they often feel intimidated by overstaffed stands, or those that don’t have a focal point or interactive element - just a thought…
The breakdown of visitors to the Retail Design Expo Contra Vision stand was 14% printers, 48% specifiers and 28% end users (the rest was unspecified). Assuming this visitor profile matches that of many exhibitors, it is clear that the show provides an opportunity for printer exhibitors to speak directly to potential customers from key creative areas.
Contra Vision sees the role of printer as central in managing client expectations and ensuring that a brief is fulfilled. As a supplier, our role in the process is to be as clear as possible in explaining the product capabilities as well as offering a consultation service whenever there is a complex set of circumstances. The company is more than willing to share its know-how in working with the most challenging of projects, for example, wrapping part of the capsules of The Coca Cola London Eye, while managing both planning rules and the requirements of various sponsors - or part wrapping The Sage, Gateshead, to create a ‘silver screen’ for digital projection, while ensuring the building could still be used as offices with working windows. Or even providing window graphics for The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, which cut down on solar glare that could impact on precious manuscripts; there is so much more to see-through graphics!
For a product that was first brought to market over 30 years ago, new opportunities and interpretations are being found all the time. But we need to get that information out there, and our time talking to those that could potentially specify the product across any manner of applications means Contra Vision is keen to actively assist PSPs as trusted and experienced exponents of see-through graphics.
Ultimately by inspiring clients, designers etc. to consider see-through graphics as a route to new creative possibilities, we can all improve our business.