With the digital revolution and changes in how we access information, we’ve changed how we use paper in our daily lives. Home- and business-based inkjet and laser printers have increasingly replaced professional printers and copy centers, even for larger jobs. But while printing has evolved to make print jobs easy for consumers, the details on paper packaging have largely stayed the same, making it difficult for purchasers to quickly identify the right product for their specific needs.

Recent research by Georgia-Pacific, manufacturer of a wide range of communication papers, confirms the difficulty people have when purchasing copy and printer papers. After gathering insights from thousands of business and consumer users of paper, Georgia-Pacific determined a need for a new streamlined packaging design and paper naming convention to expedite paper purchasing.

“Consumers want their paper purchases to be quick and easy, but not at the sacrifice of high quality and good value for a product that suits a particular need,” said Bob Hieronymus, vice president of the uncoated freesheet category at Georgia-Pacific Communication Papers. “Research showed that people are confused by the many paper choices available―and the attributes that distinguish one product from another on the packaging. Plus, product names are not very meaningful, adding further to the time it takes to make a selection.”

Digital revolution impacts printing

In the past 50 years, printing media have changed from typewriters and large offset printing presses to analog copiers and, more recently, digital laser and inkjet printers. Along the way, paper specifications like smoothness, brightness and basis weight were perpetuated, as well as naming conventions like “copy,” “laser,” or “multipurpose,” which relate to the type of printing process. 

Today’s reality is that most printers used by homes and businesses are either inkjet or laser – and most are multifunctional in that besides printing, they also scan, copy and fax. While information related to a paper’s suitability and technical specifications for a particular printing process is still meaningful for large volume paper buyers, these details are not as useful for consumers who simply want a paper that will work well for a particular use, like email printouts, business presentations and documents, or brochures.

“As printing equipment improved over the last decade, paper selection became more about what the document would be used for as opposed to what printing technology created it,” described Hieronymus. “Yet, consumer and business purchasers found themselves staring at store shelves of paper in packages cluttered with technical details and confusing names when many of them didn’t know or recall what type of printer they had, according to our research.”

Cutting the paper confusion

To simplify and expedite the paper purchasing experience for consumers, Georgia-Pacific decided to re-launch its wide range of communication papers in three intuitive product categories that convey quality, with a new easily identifiable packaging design. Both the categories and design were influenced by findings from the company’s research.

“Weight was the product attribute that consumers most readily equated to quality in our research, so we based the three categories on it,” explained Hieronymus. “For the packaging, we put the most important product information front and center and used vivid colors so consumers could identify reams at a glance. In retail outlets that primarily sell paper by the ream, sections of the poly wrap are transparent, because people wanted to see what they are buying off the shelf.”

Georgia-Pacific’s three product categories help consumers determine the paper they need based on the importance of the print job at hand. Within the three tiers, other quality and purpose refining options are available:

  • Standard - Offered at a basic weight for routine documents like copies, drafts, and other daily needs, this multipurpose paper also comes in a higher brightness option and a 30 percent recycled content option.
  • Premium - Extra weight adds thickness that makes this inkjet and laser paper appropriate for printing high quality reports, flyers, and important documents that need to look appealing and feel durable. This medium-weight paper works well for documents printed on two sides because show-through is minimal.  A higher brightness option is also available in this category.
  • Super Premium – A new ink jet and laser paper offering for Georgia-Pacific, this paper is the thickest, brightest and smoothest of the three paper categories for the most important presentations, resumes and brochures, where exceptional quality paper makes the document stand out.
Functional product features were also part of the new packaging philosophy. Most poly wrapped reams contain an easy open tear strip for quick opening, and select paper cartons feature a new EZ Access™ carton design. This design allows paper users to easily tear off the front of the carton for quick access to individual reams if the carton is not needed for a secondary use, like storage.

Bringing value and time to customers

Simplification of the paper purchasing experience extends from the more intuitive product naming convention and the revamped packaging to a newly redesigned Georgia-Pacific papers website (www.georgiapacificpaper.com), where users can easily filter and sort on parameters, like intended use, to find the right paper.  The blend of simplicity with value is at the core of Georgia-Pacific’s re-launch for its copy and printer papers, said Hieronymus.

“Our research showed that consumers wanted their paper purchase to be clear and straightforward, and the new category structure of our product portfolio, combined with the packaging change, bring them that value, which translates to time saved in a busy day,” Hieronymus concluded. “They can quickly identify the right paper, whether in the office or at a retailer or club store.”