Julia Cole: the digital opportunity – for printers and brands (PackagingNews)

Over the last decade printing has moved from a niche market to a high growth segment within the packaging industry. Traditional printers are now turning to packaging for new business opportunities – so what does this actually mean for the market?

As more and more companies look to the packaging sector for new business opportunities, printers are going to need to be able to offer a competitive service that meets the requirements of brand owners and helps them overcome the market challenges they face.

Today’s brand owners don’t merely buy packaging; they buy a way of moving their product off the shelf. Essentially, companies are looking to differentiate their products to better reach their target audiences, so the actual packaging needs to continually deliver a better consumer experience.

However, brand owners are constantly seeking to do this at a reduced cost and within a faster response time, and although these have long been key criteria, the introduction of increasingly innovative technology makes them more achievable than ever before.

The ability to print completely individual pieces on-demand at any time with no make-ready and less waste – while still achieving an outstanding output quality – can now be realised.

In addition, as the shift to smaller quantities of products targeted to specific markets continues, the case for installing a digital packaging press increases. It is one of HP’s objectives to lead the way with innovative solutions that enable efficient supply chains and affordable, profitable cost models.

Features of digital printing, such as variable data printing (VDP) and cost-effective short-runs ,open up opportunities for clever marketing campaigns, such as the Share a Coca-Cola campaign launched across Europe recently, whereby Coca-Cola replaced their logo with 150 of the most popular first names, nicknames and terms of affection on the labels of Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light and Coca-Cola Zero bottles.

Similarly the brand owner could choose to include region-specific product information or use ‘versioning’ for a campaign or region. (For example, digital printing makes it possible to create three versions of one product’s packaging, each featuring a different cartoon character). VDP also offers faster coding and marketing for track and trace information and greater product security.

HP Indigo technology takes the opportunity to add value to packaging one step further with features such as white ink for printing on transparent substrates and special printing effects, such as textured and raised print. These innovations ensure our customers maintain a strong competitive advantage and their customers can target consumers more effectively.

With all of this versatility and the immense creative advantages available to printers, the next challenge is to ensure that brands and retailers know that these services are available. This is why HP regularly engages with brands on behalf of our customers so that print buyers can make informed decisions when choosing how to print their packaging.

This close connection between print and packaging, and the need for the two worlds to connect also explains why trade shows such as easyFairs Packaging Innovations and Print Innovations, that next takes place on 26 & 27 February 2014 at the NEC in Birmingham, are reporting record exhibitor and visitor numbers.

When easyFairs first added Print Innovations to its show portfolio back in 2011, it provided us and other players like DuPont UK, AMS, Friedheim, Esko and  Roland DG with an interesting alternative platform to engage with brands and customers face-to-face – this approach seemed experimental. However, packaging has become such a stable and substantial market for print, that we now in 2013 see this kind of integrated show as central to our plans.

To read the full article, click here.

About the author: Julia Cole is marketing manager for HP UK & Ireland. For further details on the Packaging Innovations show, click here.

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