Digital or Physical: Where Do We Go?

Digital or Physical: Where Do We Go?


[Guest post from Michael Stone of Alexander’s Print Advantage, Lindon, Utah, share’s his insight into the future of personalized digital printing.]

We are rapidly approaching a tipping point.

As some experts would say, the majority of media is consumed in a digital fashion and that its never going to change.

I couldn’t disagree more.

You see, Gen Xers, Millennials and older had to learn how to use technology as a child or an adult. Gen Z’s are born with a plethora of technology and insurmountable noise created by the various platforms fighting for their attention. They don’t know any different.

Because the digital space is becoming so saturated, trust is low. It’s pretty easy to recognize the #FakeNews online and on social media. The younger generation is starting to trust physical media more (newspapers? strange times…) and is starting to use print more–Physical media can be just as personalized as digital these days and it provides a different and more prolonged experience.

The Experience Economy

Your best bet is to combine digital and physical to enhance the customer experience. If you can do this properly, you avoid becoming a commodity. For example, people create photo books to prolong past experiences that they had. These customers then have more experiences throughout the process of creating a photo book, holding and feeling it. Am I making sense here?

If you have all of your eggs in one basket, you need to start adjusting to find the happy medium.

How Media Will Be Consumed

The below chart shows how media is currently being consumed and how it will be consumed. Right now, we are in the middle/middle-left portion of this chart and rapidly approaching the happy medium–The perfect mix of digital and physical media consumption.

The top line shows how late Millennials & Gen Z consume media over their lifetime.

The bottom line shows how early Millennials and older consume media over their lifetime.

We are currently in a time where technology isn’t replacing our physical experiences, but rather enhancing it. With the help of A.I., we are better able to understand our customer behavior and preferences this allows us to provide solutions, products, and messages almost before your customer knows they need it.

In his book “The Inevitable,” Kevin Kelly talks about how A.I. is able to scale to a degree that humans are unable to. He uses the example where A.I. is able to correctly identify anyone out of nearly 3 billion people online.

Using this example, how can you use digital and the physical to enhance your customer’s experiences?

Every now and then I’ll receive a notification on my iPhone that says “you have a memory from…” from this notification I can go through photos from the memory, view the dates and locations from geo-tagging. This can then further enhance my experience with my iPhone and whatever my memory if Apple added a print feature. All it would have to do is notify me that it has automatically curated a photo book or other product with these memories. Boom–Easy purchase with ApplePay.

If you have all of your eggs in one basket, you’ll eventually be hungry.