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Paper Supply: How can growing brands continue to market while facing supply chain challenges?

Growing businesses and established brands alike have been faced with wholly-new challenges for more than two years now due to the ongoing ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses are not unlike us as individuals, each anticipating and planning for certain risks, disruptions, and mitigations in our not-so “new normal.”

As the dynamics of the pandemic change, businesses are facing unique hurdles to continue their success. One of the largest challenges facing marketers and growing brands today is the tight paper supply chain.

For many years, paper mills have been slowing production to accommodate for the changing marketing habits that prioritize digital channels. However, the consumer shifts of the pandemic saw an increase in physical and experiential marketing and the demand for paper grew. The combination of increased demand due to the digital marketing fatigue, and the decreased availability of raw goods, workers, and available transport have created a supply crisis beyond anything we have seen in modern times. One paper supplier estimates there is a 3.6 MILLION TON paper capacity deficit currently. The lead times for paper mill supply has historically been 4-6 weeks, but those lead times have recently increased to a whopping 4-5 months.

How can brands combat this challenge, navigate this landscape, and continue to grow? Here is the best advice Prisma can offer from the frontlines of this supply chain issue:

  1. PLAN AHEAD. It is harder done than said, but examine your seasonal marketing spends and plan to work 4-5 months ahead of those needs. Planning far ahead will give you a competitive edge for preferred stocks and availability.
  2. BE DEFINITIVE. Paper mills are inundated with requests and inquiries. Prisma can help your project be successful by knowing all of the pertinent information up front. What is the exact quantity? When is this project needed in-hands? Speculative or budget inquiries can be handled separately, but active projects will be better managed by having the details upfront.
  3. CUT A PURCHASE ORDER. Again, the decisiveness of a PO will help your project take priority over those languishing in an exploratory phase. Pricing is unpredictable, but your best weapon against low inventories is an active signal that you’re ready to buy.
  4. STREAMLINE YOUR PARTNERS. Firms with buying power are going to edge out competition from smaller entities. Everyone is competing for the same low inventory, but the suppliers will prioritize their larger partners, which gives the clients of these partners a competitive edge.


Prisma is working hourly with our suppliers every day to remain as nimble and responsive as we can. Our top priority, as always, is the success of our clients. As we partner more closely to combat these challenges we will continue to share best practices from this new landscape.

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BY PRISMAFebruary 1, 2022

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