Stora Enso’s Jonathan Bakewell, VP, Head of Segment Office and Book Papers, says: “This increase in printer paper demand, marked by a return to the office, has been hoped for, but these results reaffirm it.”
Five-day office week finishedThe survey also reaffirmed the end of the five-day office week, with the preferred mix now tending towards three days (33 per cent) at the office and two days working from home office, while some respondents (14 per cent) don’t plan to return at all.
“We expected this,” Bakewell says. “But what did surprise was that even though people printed less at home, 79 per cent of respondents who went out and bought a printer during the pandemic, believe they became more productive in their work because of it.”
People used their home printers for contracts, reports, spreadsheets, invoices and letters, among others, with France, notably, having the highest number of printers installed (42,5 per cent) and Sweden the least (18 per cent).
People still want paper but not just any paper
This new survey, which follows on from an earlier survey in 2020, shows that paper preferences are also evolving.
“While cost and convenience were still number one, workplace consumers are now even more concerned about print quality and sustainability than they were a year ago,” Bakewell explains, “with the number one recognised sustainability criterion being carbon neutrality.”
A majority of respondents (70 per cent) also indicated a willingness to pay a premium, on average 1 EUR/ream more, for paper with a higher sustainability performance.
This shift may be due to stay at home work becoming more formalised. “At the company, people tend to take whatever paper is provided, but with more people at home now, there are more opportunities to set their own selection standards.”
Print better post pandemicIn a nod to the U.K. government’s mantra of ‘Build back better,’ Bakewell has coined his own post-pandemic marketing phrase ‘Print better,’ referring to Stora Enso’s Multicopy Zero. “It’s our hero brand carbon offset premium printing paper, and conforms to everything people say they want.”
Bakewell should know. “I’ve been selling paper longer than I’ve been married,” he quips, “and I’ve been married a long time.” In his more than 30 years with Stora Enso, he has chalked up experience along every step of the company’s value chain from production to distribution, always working with fine papers and Multicopy papers.
“Our goal with the surveys has been to demonstrate a better understanding of what consumers want than our competitors,” Bakewell asserts. “And with print quality and carbon neutrality coming out as top criteria, and Stora Enso’s flagship product ticking all the boxes, I think you could say we’ve achieved that.”
Looking forward, Bakewell says he'd like to survey how people feel about working for companies that procure sustainable products. As the climate crisis drives awareness of the need, companies everywhere are making long-term promises to become carbon neutral. “Some of these are far in the future, but if people see their employer making immediate visible changes, like selecting a paper with a higher sustainability performance, this can become a physical manifestation of that promise.”
Stora Enso’s own long-term ambition is to go beyond carbon neutrality to become a net positive contributor by 2050. “We want to make the planet better by our activities,” Bakewell says. “That means offering 100 per cent regenerative products and solutions that not only mitigate environmental impacts, but restore and rebuild.”