Would you like some foil with your digital printing?

Posted on by Dave Erlandson | No Comments »

Print Enhancement is not a new concept.  Printers generate over $5 billion annually by adding foil, spot gloss or raised print to printed documents via traditional analog methods. The market drivers for print enhancement are well documented:

digital print enhancement

  • Adds a luxury look & feel
  • Increases perceived value
  • Makes materials stand out
  • Can increase security
  • Increases profitability for vendors


We see print enhancement being used for packaging and marketing communication documents in two segments of the market: luxury goods and what we call the personal brand market.  According to an analysis by BCG, spending on luxury goods exceeds $1 trillion globally. Key sub-segments include: fashion & clothing, watches & jewelry, leather goods and accessories, cosmetics & fragrances, alcohol & food, travel & hotels, technology, furniture, and automobiles.

We define the personal brand market as being items that are used to communicate information about oneself or events in one’s life.  This includes business cards, wedding invitations, holiday cards, event invitations, etc. There is a percentage of the market that wants to create these types of documents and add print enhancement to stand out from the crowd.

This point in time for print enhancement is providing strong déjà vu sensation. The current market structure is ideal for long runs as the set up costs associated with creating the dies needed are significant, but the ongoing running costs are low. This has created a market where print enhancement is most often sold in runs of 3,000 pieces or more, leaving the short run market unfulfilled.

However, new digital print enhancement technology (from MGI and Scodix) has entered the market that requires no set up, but has a higher running cost than analog methods.  Sound familiar? This is exact the same situation that was at the start of the digital printing market back in the 1990’s.  The graph below shows how analog foil enhancement is being priced in the market and the area to the left of the curve defines the pricing opportunity for digital print enhancement.

pricing for digital print enhancement

Companies are already starting to take advantage of this opportunity. For example we see two of the industry leaders have recently started offering short run print enhancement.  Vistaprint sells foil enhanced business cards for $36 for 100, an up-charge of $12 over non-enhanced cards or a twelve cent premium per card.  And Shutterfly offers wedding invitations 100 wedding invitations with foil for $299 vs $199 without, an up-charge of a dollar per invitation.

There are many applications suitable for digital print enhancement including

  • Announcements
  • Book Covers
  • Business Cards
  • Cards & Invitations
  • Covers
  • Direct Marketing
  • Folding Carton Packaging
  • Greeting Cards
  • Labels
  • Marketing Collateral
  • Pocket Folders
  • Promotional Materials
  • Tickets

Companies are doing the analysis to see if getting into this market makes sense for them. They are

  • Identifying likely clients, applications & competition
  • Understanding the pricing options
  • Determining investment costs
  • Calculating required volumes

In an industry where many of the providers struggle in the commodity end of the market digital print enhancement may provide valuable differentiation that can lead to new business.

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