Koehler Group: Roadshow and drupa -- drupa - 2028 - Messe Düsseldorf

Koehler Group: Roadshow and drupa

Bildquelle: Koehler-Gruppe

Knowledge Creates Trust

When it comes to sustainability, the print and paper industry is one of the most committed industries in the EU. The challenge of constantly promoting sustainability is still ongoing though—and, if anything, is becoming more complex. The Koehler Group’s communication strategy for sustainability involves a number of techniques, including face-to-face interaction. One example of this will be its major presence at the drupa trade fair, and it is also hosting its own event formats such as the “Sustainability Meets ...” series. The company relies on consistent communication, which may become rather scientific, for example with Koehler Paper Greiz.

Never before has it been so essential, and yet so difficult, to raise awareness about the global sustainable transformation as it is today. The decarbonization being pursued by all industrial nations is based on complex international agreements and regulations. To understand these guidelines, which shape legislation – including German laws – a huge range of issues need to be taken on board. Science, the economy, industry, the media, and trade fair organizers too have developed concepts with the aim of reducing the complexity of these matters to make them more accessible to as many people as possible.

Sustainability Meets ... Impact

The Koehler Group offers an extensive range of sustainable paper and cardboard for a variety of applications. Whether they’re on the search for a special kind of packaging or the materials for a business report, an independent magazine, or a specific marketing application, touching, feeling, and stroking the substrates is an essential part of the process for many of those responsible for budget decisions.

In addition to the user experience of the materials, there are other specific properties that come into play, for instance the properties that are required for special kinds of packaging paper such as food packaging, technical features to ensure compliance with legal requirements, and of course the material’s impact, particularly in marketing and at the point of sale. All these areas are also seeing a very concrete demand for environmentally sustainable products and production areas in keeping with this, for example as a result of the new German Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettengesetz). The Koehler Group is responding to these multi-layered requirements with an equally multi-layered communication strategy.

Face-To-Face Communication

Udo Hollbach, Managing Director of Koehler Paper Greiz:
"We know how important the individual touch is for our customers, alongside talking to them directly about their specific questions.” 

In addition to a few trade fairs, those that are relevant for us such as drupa, where we will present our world of paper to tens of thousands of people and will have thousands of conversations, we also invite our customers and potential customers to attend our own very special events—under the tagline “Sustainability Meets ...”—on varied topics such as the senses, art, and literature, with more subjects to follow.  

It began in Hamburg on November 9, 2023, with the theme of “Sustainability Meets the Senses”. This was followed by an event in Düsseldorf on March 22 under the banner of “Sustainability Meets Art”. Invited guests from the print and media industry, creative agencies, brand owners, and artists came along to the Sturmfreie Bude venue in the COLLECTION Business Center and, according to the results of a survey conducted on a site, they are also planning to visit the Koehler stand at the drupa trade fair to explore even more exhibits.

This approach definitely hits a nerve among potential attendees. Be it paper or cardboard in marketing, for publishing products, in literature, art, or packaging products, the message of Koehler’s events is clear: Nowadays, budget decisions can be made on the basis of scientifically proven findings concerning tactile perception in haptic brand communication.

A) A Multichannel Approach: Knowledge Transfer Creates Trust

Outside of the print and paper industry, there is still an enormous need to spread the message, particularly with regard to the performance of paper, its use in marketing projects, and, above all, its sustainability. The Koehler Group is using a range of channels to broadcast its mission statements and is reaping the rewards of developing its knowledge base. Its content is being input into the company’s various information channels: Different websites, the comprehensive Sustainability Report, the printed internal magazine Circular, articles such as this one, and of course trade fairs such as drupa.

Sustainability as a Key Topic at drupa

Besides the Koehler Paper Greiz events outlined above, the Group is very much involved in trade fairs, with the same ambition to spread its message. Teams from every single Koehler division will talk to customers and inspire them with exhibits from Koehler’s world of paper at its 400-square-meter stand (Hall 4, Stand A20) at drupa, the world’s largest trade fair for print and paper, in Düsseldorf from May 28 through June 7, 2024.

In this respect, the Koehler Group is a model for many companies in the paper industry, which are now also supported by associations such as the Association of Printers and Media (Bundesverband Druck- und Medien e.V.) through its communication campaign: "Planet. Friendly. Printing."

Other initiatives in the industry include UmDEX, a group of professionally certified printing service providers that aims to get as many printing companies as possible involved in the sustainable transformation and to inform print product buyers about the most important official labels for sustainable media production.

Special Sustainability Areas at drupa

The Koehler Group will be able to showcase its commitment to sustainability at drupa and will be featuring the following areas of its business:

  • Research & Development: Koehler Innovation & Technology
  • Start-up Collaborations: Koehler Innovative Solutions
  • Renewable Energies: Koehler Renewable Energy

Sustainability will of course be a major buzzword at drupa. One example is TPS (touchpoint sustainability), a special area being run by German mechanical and plant engineering association VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbauer e.V.). TPS will present best practice examples, showcase forward-thinking sustainable technologies and ideas, and organize daily podium discussions. The forum will communicate challenges, solutions, and visions for more sustainability throughout the printing and paper industry.

The Koehler Group itself will be a sustainability touchpoint at drupa.
The company will be presenting all of its paper ranges—and will also be involved in TPS, for example, with a presentation on May 30. Thanks to its focus on sustainability, the Koehler Group’s world of paper will be included in the “drupa Guided Tours” four times as part of the “Sustainability in Media Production” tour.

B) Multidisciplinary: Complex Questions

Sustainability and communication on this subject is at the top of the to-do list of all paper manufacturers, partly also because they are increasingly facing questions from the periphery of paper production on sustainable transformation matters that cannot be ignored.

The main question at present remains the matter of medium
A lot of those responsible for budget decisions are deliberating between print and digital for various application scenarios. Providers offering both media must constantly prove the benefits of their products and services in two different respects:

  • Performance, for example in marketing, and
  • Sustainability

The paper industry can withstand the comparison with digital on many different levels, and is approaching this issue by spreading detailed information and clarifying the facts. Rising demand for peripherals requires interdisciplinary communication strategies to meet the growing clamor for multi-layered answers. These topics from the industry’s core business include: 

(1) Incomplete information from competitor industries: Recently, large retail chains have promoted digital marketing, citing the argument of environmental and climate protection, without mentioning any figures for the CO₂ emissions from the corresponding digital substitutes for print products. The paper and print industry has published solid facts refuting the argument that digital media is generally more sustainable than print products. A comparison of the relevant CO₂ emissions is only possible on a case-by-case basis anyway, and will become mandatory in future due to the Green Claims Directive.

(2) Raising awareness of the global sustainable transformation: Many people still see themselves as the ones impacted rather than believing they can be part of the sustainable transformation solution. There is a lack of vision and concrete ideas on where this journey should be heading.

Besides climate and environmental protection goals, there are many other reasons in favor of decarbonizing economies. These include energy sovereignty and future energy price stability, supply security for future generations, growth in regional value creation from energy (regional energy wealth), or improvements to the labor market and future-proof jobs in the green economy. 

Besides the technical and practical HOW, the WHY (goals) and WHERE TO (prospects) also impact the success of sustainable product and service sales. After all, it may be the case that nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come, but for the idea to work (in the medium-term), it must be understood by everyone.

(3) Framing by the economic and political opposition: Large fossil fuel lobbies, opposition parties, and online trolls may be acting with different motives, but are all united in their goal of undermining democratic societies to their own advantage through fake news, framing, and targeted misinformation or half-truths, particularly on topics such as the sustainable transformation, which has become the focus of attention for these groups. 

This has brewed a toxic atmosphere, which is hitting an economy that is at times still jittery. It’s a situation reminiscent of Germany’s hesitation about digitalization, a revolution which has produced the most powerful companies in the world in just one decade.

(4) Solid demand for environmentally-friendly, high-performance media: As discussed above and below.

Nachhaltigkeit trifft Kunst … trifft Weltpolitik

Bildquelle: Koehler-Gruppe

Udo Hollbach (Managing Director Koehler Paper Greiz) in conversation with the guests.

Koehler Paper brings together different questions, stakeholders, customer segments, products, and issues, attracting a great deal of attention in the process, particularly through its events and attendance at trade fairs. The event in Düsseldorf mentioned earlier focused, for example, on Agenda 2030, through which the global community set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for economic, social, and environmental development.

Speaker: Stephan Overkott, Galerie Geuer & Geuer Art GmbH

Guest speaker Stephan Overkott (marketing & art expert) spoke on behalf of Düsseldorf gallery Geuer & Geuer about an art project to promote the SDGs. Together with UNESCO Special Ambassador and founder of the You Foundation, Dr. Alongside Ute-Henriette Ohoven, the renowned YOU Foundation, and the awareness campaign #Art4GlobalGoals gallery owner Dirk Geuer has been actively campaigning for the implementation of the 17 SDGs since back in 2017, reported art expert Stephan Overkott. The idea of producing a sailing exhibition from the SDGs that would be presented in different cities across Germany certainly attracted attention. The resulting art project, the sailing exhibition Sailing #Art4GlobalGoals was a notable success. In 2021, the artist Stefan Szczesny was commissioned to produce an artwork reflecting the 17 images. For the first time, the artist used large sails as his canvas. Szczesny’s colorful art lent itself perfectly to this topic – on sailcloth, but of course on paper too. Even the art scene is demanding sustainable solutions nowadays.

Different worlds aligned—an alliance was formed between culture and sustainability—and in Düsseldorf a link was firmly established to sustainable products too, such as those offered by Koehler Paper in Greiz and that will be exhibited in increased numbers at the drupa trade fair. The event opened up new creative spaces, ways of thinking, and prospects for those in attendance at this special Koehler event and it will do the same for visitors at the drupa trade fair. Art can create the opportunity for more in-depth conversations, after all the SDGs are not supposed to be poetry - they are a matter of Realpolitik.

From 2025, there will even be a DIN EN ISO standard—standard 53001—to help all companies interested around the world to integrate or manage the SDGs in their business: 

  • The defossilization of the economy is also becoming established on the basis of the 17 SDGs as of September 2015.
  • Interdependent legislation within the EU has been developed on this basis within the European Green Deal (as of January 15, 2020): Directives such as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, CSDDD),
  • which in turn are used as templates for laws in Germany, for example the Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz, LkSG), etc.
  • EMASplus will also focus on managing the SDGs.

Launch of our own campaign at drupa 2024

In its comprehensive Sustainability Report, the Koehler Group pledges its commitment to the 17 SDGs, and has already begun working on ten goals. It has also announced it will launch a highlight project exclusively at drupa, and all that we know so far is it will be connected to the SDGs.

In the words of Udo Hollbach: “We will present an extensive range of sustainable, certified solutions at drupa, based on multifaceted applications. All of our products are manufactured in sustainable production environments and are also certified at a product level.”

Speaker: Olaf Hartmann explains: “What are the strengths of print?”

In his talk, keynote speaker Olaf Hartmann (author of “TOUCH – der Haptik-Effekt” [TOUCH – the Haptic Effect]) summarized insights from international brand research and advertising practice using case studies and examples of best practice in industry, in addition to scientific facts.

The guests learned how scientifically proven findings from brain research and neuroscience, as well as from psychological and behavioral economics, can be applied to boost sales performance, for example in paper-driven marketing. These are subjects that will form a key part of Koehler’s presence at drupa because sustainability plays a central role in how brands are perceived.

Coming full circle at drupa

It is considered scientifically proven that multisensory properties, such as the size of images and a good overview in print products, positively affect the attention of recipients. This is underpinned by studies such as the well-known CMC (Collaborative Marketing Club) print mailing study for Deutsche Post AG, the dialog marketing report of Österreichische Post AG, or the Prospektmonitor (brochure monitor) study by IFH MEDIA ANALYTICS GmbH, along with many other research results.

Theory is nothing without practice.

Thomas Wuttke, Key Account Manager at Koehler Paper Greiz, linked this knowledge to real-world and best practice examples in his follow-up speech, and outlined a number of media projects that have been implemented in practice.

Voices from the Auditorium

Industry initiative UMDEX carried out a survey among the guests. It was interesting to note that everyone said ‘Sustainable media and production methods’ was why they intended to visit drupa and the Koehler Group’s stand there. All of the respondents also gave reasons such as ‘General interest in new products’ and ‘Materials’.

Almost all of the individuals surveyed will be visiting the Koehler Group at drupa, including the following:

Ellen Kreye, Managing Director of Kreye Siebdruck GmbH, which specializes in finishing effects in screen printing and digital printing, says: “As a DIN 14001-certified company, we are always on the lookout for new developments and ideas to promote sustainable action, along with the substrates to match.” She believes paper often attracts more attention and has more value than the digital equivalent. For that reason, and many others, drupa is most definitely in her diary.

Rüdiger Maaß, Managing Director of media production association Fachverband Medienproduktion e. V., will also be going to drupa and attended the event hosted by Koehler Paper Greiz because of his interest in the design approach in sustainable media production: “For us, there is generally no alternative to print products – they coexist with digital communication.” It is clear to him that sustainable communication will always need a physical medium.

Yves B. Sowa, Media Production Manager at LR Health & Beauty Systems, attended the “Sustainability Meets ...” event to find out more about packaging, where sustainability is a key factor for him. “The event definitely met our expectations – we learned a lot. “We will of course be visiting the Koehler Group at its stand at drupa!”

Ulla Born, art historian and Head of Leica Galerie Düsseldorf, described her interest in attending the event: “We were interested in new ideas that would help us become more sustainable in the future, for example by using sustainable bags made from Koehler paper.”

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