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Hot off the press

Time to think outside the (cardboard) box…

First pasta and loo rolls, then anything for the garden, car components and now paper – apparently you can’t get it for love nor money.

As if businesses haven’t been challenged enough with Covid, Brexit, Suez Canal and all the spin-offs these have created in terms of being able to sell to customers: delivery problems, import costs, high demand, low demand – to say it’s kept us on our feet is an understatement. And now we have a national paper shortage to contend with!

For our clients, this has several immediate implications, firstly, obtaining paper; not just for printed material such as catalogues and mailers but also for packaging and delivery. Secondly, newspapers usually upsize their key issues of the year, October to mid-December, but, with paper in short supply, they cannot get the additional stock required to do this. This means demand for space during this key period is going to outstrip supply

So what’s led to the paper shortage?

Demand – when we first went into lockdown consumers turned to mail order for all their shopping, the vast majority of which is delivered in cardboard boxes. So, existing e-commerce businesses boomed and upped their usage but there were also many companies that had not previously used cardboard boxes e.g. pubs and restaurants, garden centres etc, all of whom had adapted their businesses to home delivery. The ‘Amazon effect’ saw online purchasing increase by 74% and Royal Mail delivered an extra 200m parcels in 2020.

Supply – many large companies stockpiled when they anticipated the demand and knowing Brexit could make purchasing difficult; this impacted on the supply chain.

Increased costs – it is a worldwide issue as everyone has experienced a similar pattern since lockdown and with China in particular buying huge volumes of stock, import prices have increased by 40%.

Recycling – retailers have a slick recycling set-up for all their deliveries which was previously where the majority of cardboard was going however, with such an increase going directly to consumers who don’t automatically recycle their waste, a huge amount of cardboard has ended up in landfill rather than back in the system.

So, what could this mean now for advertising?

Now is the time to think ahead. We advise getting organised without panic buying. Plan your media and inserts ahead of time as much as possible – and as results dictate – but also consider increasing the use of non-paper advertising, TV in particular is a great thing to test during Q4 this year; viewing figures are high and prices are still highly competitive.

If you’d like help with adapting your media plan or perhaps discuss ideas for a TV campaign please get in touch with Lesley Bowman, new business director