Opticom International Research today announces the results from “The Brand Tracking Survey – Woodfree Coated Paper 2009” whereby the most known, bought and appreciated woodfree coated sheet brands in Central & Eastern Europe are defined. The results are based on interviews with 457 professional paper buyers in the sheet-fed offset printing segment across four Central & Eastern European countries; Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

Merchant owned brands clearly dominate the Central & Eastern European market and particularly strong brand owners are Antalis with both Claro and Novatech in the top and PaperlinX with Hello being a top brand. UPM Finesse is the only mill owned brand with a relatively strong position in these markets. However, though not frequently mentioned spontaneously, other mill owned brands, like G-Print and Arctic, are recognised by a very large share of the Central & Eastern European printers. In these countries, it is also more obvious than in Western Europe, that some brands are more known than bought.

In line with the actuality of the topic, Opticom has given the environment a special emphasis in this year’s survey. Printer expectations on the environmental credentials/friendliness, when selecting a brand, are measured and also their perception of the performance of their current main brand/s with respect to environmental credentials/friendliness. For the first time ever, Opticom furthermore asked printers to mention the leading woodfree coated sheet brand from an environmental point of view and why that brand is perceived to be superior to other brands. According to project manager Jessica Tommila, the results indicate that Central & Eastern European printers (so far?) put less emphasis on the environmental issues than their Western European peers and that is it is even clearer than in Western Europe that there is no leading environmental woodfree coated sheet brand in the four markets covered in the survey. There are thus some very interesting opportunities for brand owners if the aim is to claim the position as the greenest woodfree coated sheet brand.

This is the third time that Opticom measures awareness of woodfree coated sheet brands in Central & Eastern Europe and for the first time, Opticom makes public the list of most well-known brands in these markets. The table below shows the 15 most known brands in Central & Eastern Europe in 2009 based on their total spontaneous awareness* among sheet-fed offset printers: (brands marked in green show a positive development in % vs. 2008)

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In contrast to Western Europe, the most frequently spontaneously mentioned brands in Central & Eastern Europe are to a large majority merchant owned. Within top fifteen, there are only three mill owned brands: UPM Finesse in 4th place, Garda in 7th and BVS in 11th.

Since the start of the survey in 2007, there has been a very positive development with respect to brand awareness. When comparing with 2008, almost all of the top fifteen brands show a higher awareness level, as reflected by brands marked in green in the table above. The largest increases (vs. both 2007 and 2008) are seen for the top three brands; Hello, Claro and Novatech.

Hello is still the number one brand from an awareness point of view but Claro has now taken the 1st position in terms of share of printers saying that they buy the brand.

The survey not only ranks woodfree coated sheet brands based on how well-known they are but also based on how well they meet sheet-fed offset printers’ expectations on a number of quality performance criteria. It also identifies the level of loyalty towards the brand in terms of the likelihood of being purchased again in one year’s time.

When it comes to expectations on the quality features of the brands and their performance, the five most important criteria are the same as in Western Europe; consistent quality, runnability, printability, value for money and fast ink-setting & drying. Printers are overall somewhat less satisfied with the performance of the brands than in Western Europe and the three most known brands, Hello, Claro and Novatech, all need to improve and better fulfil user demands as they do not even make the top three with respect to quality associations.

The survey adds value to you if you are interesting in finding out any of the following:
> How do your customers (the printers) view your brand/the brand that your paper is re-sold as? What overall strengths and weaknesses does it have?
> Is your brand or the brand that your paper is distributed as, well-known where distributed? That is, does its awareness reflect its availability in the various markets?
> What do users of your brand/the brand that your paper is re-sold as, value when it comes to quality characteristics?
> How well does your brand/the brand that your paper is distributed as, fulfil printer demands; both in absolute terms and in relation to competition?
> How important are the environmental aspects to a printer when selecting brand and printers selecting your brand in particular?
> Is your brand one of the leading brands from an environmental point of view?
> Is there a risk in printers not selecting your brand in one year’s time? If so, why?

The findings provide useful information that enables brand owners to for example:
> Define where to focus their efforts in order to create a stronger position for their brands; is it question of raising awareness of the brand or more influencing printers’ quality perceptions or even improving the actual quality of the brand?
> Analyse their brands’ positions in the various markets and printer segments to see where they have competitive advantages and not. A lot of valuable input is provided when it comes to how to define the brand promise.
> Understand how printers view the environmental aspects when selecting a woodfree coated sheet brand

The information should be considered valuable not only to the sales force, but also to marketing departments handling marketing communication and market/business planning and development departments responsible for improving the quality of the brands. Knowing your customers (current as well as potential) and how they view various matters is the key to successful business.

For more information, or ordering of the survey, please contact Jessica Tommila at:
Opticom International Research,
Grev Turegatan 30, SE-114 38 Stockholm, SWEDEN
Direct phone: +46 (0)8 50 30 90 06
Mobile phone: +46 (0)708 39 90 06
Fax +46 (0)8 50 30 90 01
E-mail: jessica@opticom.se

About Opticom’s brand surveys for woodfree coated paper
Opticom International Research has since 1999 annually carried out an evaluation of the woodfree coated paper brands in Western Europe and since 2007 also in Central & Eastern Europe. Up to 2008, the total Brand Equity encompassing spontaneous awareness, top of mind, quality & associations and loyalty as well as purchasing determinants; frequency, drivers, were measured annually. As of 2009, the brand tracking will be concentrated to mainly awareness and quality aspects every second year and the total Brand Equity every other second year. The environmental aspects are likely to constitute a concurrent theme every year to enable tracking progress over time.

This year’s survey ranks the woodfree coated paper brands based on how well-known they are in the respective market and printing segment (this news release referring to the Central & Eastern European market for sheet-fed offset printing) and how well the brands meet printers’ expectations on a number of quality performance criteria. The quality related criteria evaluated are:
> Consistent quality
> High runnability
> Good printability
> Fast ink setting & drying
> High opacity
> High whiteness
> High bulk
> Value for money
> Wide range of paper qualities
> Environmental credentials/friendliness
In addition to these criteria, the importance of net price and end use/r specification was also rated.

The survey has also indicated the level of loyalty towards the brand in terms of the likelihood of the brand being purchased again in one year’s time and for the first time the survey identifies the leading woodfree coated sheet brands in Central & Eastern Europe from an environmental point of view.

A total of 457 quantitative CATI-telephone interviews were carried out in four markets; Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland during June and July 2009. Though results are not included in this news release, the survey was also run for the first time in Switzerland and totally 101 Swiss sheet-fed offset printers were interviewed. A brand must be evaluated by at least ten respondents in a minimum two of the four markets covered in order to qualify for the calculation of the Spontaneous Awareness Index, the Top of Mind Index and the Quality & Associations Index (quality expectations and relative performance of the brand).

The survey was also carried out among both sheet fed-offset and web heat-set printers in Western Europe. The results are published in three different reports:
> Western Europe Sheet-fed offset printers
> Western Europe Web heat-set printers
> Central & Eastern Europe Sheet-fed offset printers – this news release

Opticom International Research is a leading global market research and consulting firm with the mission to help our customers make better business decisions. Since 1987, we have been dedicated to serving clients within the pulp, paper & board industry with customised research services focusing on commercial and marketing related issues. In combining our large global in-house research capabilities, state-of-the-art information technology and our pulp & paper competence we have proven to be a unique partner for a number of leading forest products companies all over the world that value not only speed and quality but also cost effectiveness in surveys and analyses.

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