Growth Markets and New Applications for Variable Data Printing

  • Howie Fenton
  • |
  • April 09, 2024

While new print, finish, and mail technologies constantly evolve, the growth opportunities for Variable Data Printing (VDP) remain unchanged. Or at least that’s always been the general consensus. 

But with new applications and strategies, I see a potential growth trajectory for VDP. In this blog post, I aim to demystify VDP and explore the potential that exists there.

The Global VDP Market

At its core, VDP is a dynamic printing process that allows for the customization of individual elements within a print job, ranging from simple text changes like names and addresses to complex graphical modifications tailored to individual preferences. This technology enables a level of personalization that significantly enhances the relevance and effectiveness of printed materials. 

And the VDP market is on an upward trend, with predictions indicating substantial growth. While estimates vary, data suggests potential growth from $13 billion today up to $31 billion by 2030. This optimistic forecast indicates VDP's increasing significance, new markets, and applications to produce highly customized and engaging content.

Expanding Applications 

VDP's main strength lies in its capacity to make print materials more relevant and engaging. Even the modest act of inscribing a name on an item can significantly heighten its attractiveness and impact. As a judge for the now-defunct Print on Demand Initiative (PODI), I was fortunate enough to see over 500 case studies that demonstrated VDP's potential to revolutionize marketing strategies through personalized communication. 

The best direct mail campaigns, for instance, deliver the right message at the right time with the right offer – customer centricity at its best. And VDP is widely used in direct mail. It allows businesses to create personalized marketing materials, tailoring content to individual recipients. Studies and real-world applications have demonstrated that personalized marketing, facilitated by VDP, can significantly increase engagement, response rates, and ROI.   

Since it was first introduced, clever companies have discovered new applications and markets for VDP. Some of these include:

  • Customized Gratitude Expressions: The simple act of saying thank you gains a new dimension with VDP. Personalized thank-you notes, infused with specific details pertinent to each recipient, convey a sense of genuine appreciation and foster stronger relationships.  
  • Event Personalization: From the simplicity of a sporting event to the precision of corporate events, VDP allows for the creation of customized invitations, tickets, and promotional materials. These personalized touches enhance the event experience, making each guest feel uniquely welcomed. 
  • Engaging Brochures and Postcards: By aligning the content of brochures and postcards with the interests and preferences of their recipients, organizations can significantly boost engagement. 
  • First Impressions with Customized Envelopes: The envelope no longer just contains the message — it becomes part of it. Customized envelopes featuring personalized recipient information set the tone for the enclosed content, creating anticipation and a memorable first impression. 
  • Product Packaging with a Personal Touch: Dynamic labels bring a new level of customization to product packaging, allowing for the inclusion of customer names or special messages. This strategy elevates the brand connection. 
  • Personalized Postcards with Impact: The power of a postcard is amplified when it features the recipient's name, relevant imagery, and targeted messaging.  
  • Interactive Engagement Through QR Codes: VDP takes interactivity to the next level with personalized QR codes. These codes can direct users to customized landing pages or exclusive content, offering a unique and engaging experience that bridges the physical and digital worlds. 
  • Invitations That Tell a Story: For special moments, whether personal celebrations or professional gatherings, unique invitations crafted through VDP tell a story. They incorporate personalized details that reflect the occasion's significance and the invitee’s importance, making each invitation a cherished keepsake. 
  • Personalized Appeal Letters: Tailor fundraising letters to individual alumni and donors by referencing their specific interests, past contributions, and any personal connection they might have with the institution. 
  • Custom Labels/Stickers: Businesses like food, cosmetics, and beverage companies apply custom labels/stickers for branding and product distinction. In marketing, they serve as promotional tools, and are used for personalizing gifts and commemorating special occasions. The healthcare sector depends on them for patient safety as well, and the logistics field uses them for effective inventory and shipment tracking. In sectors where safety and regulatory compliance are critical, such as chemicals and machinery, custom labels provide essential information and warnings.

Automating VDP

Solutions like ImpactVDP by RSA play a crucial role in facilitating VDP adoption by automating the creation of variable data compositions and integrating seamlessly with workflows. ImpactVDP, in conjunction with RSA's QDirect software, facilitates the automation of transactional and data-driven VDP production, eliminating the need for manual input by sourcing data directly. Recent updates have introduced features like barcode support and an improved system for managing VDP templates, which streamlines the VDP creation process. 

With ImpactVDP's Designer, the time required for customer orders and template creation is reduced, and the tool includes advanced output options, such as the ability to conceal pre-printed stock backgrounds and incorporate barcode functionality.  

Furthermore, in-plants are now equipped to expand their offerings, integrating VDP into RSA's WebCRD Web to Print system, resulting in an automated, seamless workflow from start to finish. Adding ImpactVDP to RSA’s QDirect amplifies this capability, allowing for even more sophisticated, data-driven VDP tasks. Lastly, by utilizing the comprehensive print and output management features of QDirect, in-plants can achieve full automation of the VDP process, ensuring a more streamlined, efficient, and error-free operation. 


VDP is a growth opportunity in the printing industry, offering unparalleled customization and personalization capabilities that meet the growing demand for tailored communication. Its predicted growth underscores its potential to redefine marketing strategies and customer engagement.  

The opportunities VDP offers are only limited by the imagination. By embracing technological advancements and overcoming implementation challenges, businesses can leverage VDP to its full potential, creating impactful, personalized print materials that resonate with their audience. 

Growth Markets and New Applications for Variable Data Printing

New print, finish, and mail technologies are constantly evolving – yet for many in-plants, the growth opportunities for Variable Data Printing (VDP) may have long seemed unchanged. But there’s plenty of opportunity in VDP, and a growing market for the right VDP applications. This blog explores some of the new applications and strategies in-plants can take – demystifying VDP and highlighting its possible growth trajectory.


About the Author

Howie Fenton

Howie Fenton is an independent consultant and trusted advisor to in-plant printers. He recommends equipment, best practices and workflow automation tools to streamline operations. To learn more about measuring performance, benchmarking to leaders, and improving your value e-mail

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