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Print Buyers & the Paper Industry

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Corporate print buyers could well be entitled “paper buyers,” since almost every buyer also sources paper for commercial print jobs. How they source their paper and where they gather their “paper intelligence” was the basis of this 2014 study by Margie Dana and consultant John Zarwan.

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According to survey results released today and conducted by Margie Dana, printing industry expert, and industry consultant and researcher John Zarwan, most print buyers would like more help from the paper industry and desire more information about changes in the industry. In addition, they would welcome more educational information to help them in their roles as paper specifiers. The findings indicate that most buyers currently rely on their print partners for information about paper and the paper industry.

The 33-page report, which involved nearly 200 professional print buyers across the country, is called “Print Buyers & the Paper Industry: Who They Rely on, How They Source Paper, and Where They Get Their Information.” Data collected in this study reveal additional findings of interest to the industry. Some buyers report that they have difficulty specifying paper for digital print jobs, which is primarily due to the fact that different equipment has different paper requirements.

Other insight reveals that print buyers go to a wide variety of sources, both online and off, to gather paper information, and they would welcome more events and resources stemming from the paper industry and addressing their specific needs.

This report suggests a tremendous opportunity for the paper industry as well as commercial and printers to work more closely together in educating and informing professional print buyers,” notes Zarwan.

The study suggests that print buyers get their professional paper education in a catch-as-catch-can manner; they rely on many sources for information on paper industry changes, and emphatically want more information directly from the paper industry.

Dana adds, “Print buyers want more attention from the paper industry. They miss relationships they had with spec reps and are ready to embrace targeted educational efforts about commercial printing paper. It’s a challenge that, if met, will reap the paper industry major benefits. Since almost every print buyer specifies paper, there’s an enormous opportunity to serve them and influence their paper choices.”

Table Of Contents

Report Highlights
Introduction: Why This Is Important
Methodology: How We Did lt
Sample Demographics: Who Did We Talk To?
Where They Work: Type of Business
Where They Work: Departments and Titles
How Experienced Are They?
Where They Are Located
Print Purchases
How Much Do They Buy?
Change in Spending on Print
Change in Print Characteristics
Print Buyers and Their Role in Selecting Paper
Specifying Paper
Do Print Buyers Specify Paper?
Do Buyers Specify Generic Sheets or Do They Specify Brands?
Do Print Buyers Purchase Their Own Paper?
What Is the Printer's Role in Paper Specifying?
Print Buyers & House Stock
Print Buyers and Paper-Buying Programs
Print Buyers and Their Paper Education
Where Do Print Buyers Get Information about Paper?
Getting Information to Print Buyers: Websites, Publications and Events
What Print Buyers Want from the Paper Industry
Summary and Conclusions

About the Authors

About Margie Dana

Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched her new business in 2013 as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She ghostblogs for her clients, writes newsletters, web sites and other marketing materials, and still publishes her popular Print Tips blog each week. For details on her services and to sign up for Print Tips, visit

About John Zarwan

J Zarwan Partners works closely with a select number of companies, guiding them to develop and implement more effective and efficient business strategies. Their clients, which include commercial printing and packaging industry leaders, benefit from his extensive experience in addressing and managing change; market strategy and implementation; product planning and positioning; and market research. John Zarwan, founding partner, has been in the graphic arts, printing, and digital media industry for 30 years and is internationally recognized for his knowledge and insight on trends in the industry. He has spoken at major industry events and conferences around the world, and his articles on print markets and technology have appeared in various print and web journals. For more information, go to:

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