Just when commentators were ready to write off the Print and Packaging industry, it’s begun to enjoy a marked resurgence, led by brands which want to appear less corporate and to appeal more directly to consumers. The major corporates are leading the way with innovation in personalised Printing and Packaging, and this trend is now growing throughout the industry.
The fact is that personalised Printing and Packaging is now seen as a key way to add value to what are otherwise standard consumer products. A customer will pay far more for a bag of cookies with – say – their own or their partner’s or child’s name on it. So Printing and Packaging are seen as previously under-used ways of harvesting extra value on products. As brands jostle with competing products and generics on the supermarket shelves, personalised products are turning into increased sales at far better mark-ups. The most noticeable manifestation is probably the Coke bottles in your local store now bearing a selection of people’s names. Coke ads feature people holding the personalised bottles.
Digital Cheaper for Shorter Runs
The Financial Times recently reported on this trend and talked with Dion Weisler, who is CEO of HP (previously Hewlett Packard), so a man who knows what he’ talking about when it comes to printing innovation. He sees digital printing as the next big development in the print market. Because digital printing is now as good as analogue in terms of quality, a new market has suddenly opened up. Whereas analogue printing remains cost-effective for large runs of the same label, shorter runs are cheaper with digital.
Growth of 20% Predicted
It’s not just a case of printing popular names on products and then charging more for them. The personalisation can extend to targeting consumers’ gender, ethnicity, language, culture, nationality and other attributes. Although corporates could find themselves embroiled in diversity issues and will have to tread sensitively.
Smithers Pira, a sector consultancy, has forecast growth of 8% in digital commercial printing and 20% for digital printing on packaging, which shows the step change that is under way.
Added Value for Established Brands
The key driver of growth is the phenomenal value that can be added to brands by customising them. The FT quotes the example of a Melbourne department store that last Christmas sold Nutella in customised printed packaging. They sold these at AUD 12.95 each. That’s around £8.00 per jar. And they shifted 400,000.
Not to be left out, Kraft Heinz has been sending out “Get Well Soon” customised cans of tomato soup and charging about six times as much for them as for the standard product. The company would no doubt point out that this is still less than the cost of a decent get-well card, and you can’t eat a card. These examples give a glimpse of the massive potential market that is opening up.
The unlikely corporate love affair with randomisation is also influencing the digital printing and packaging trend. Algorithms are used during the print runs to introduce randomness. Diet Coke recently produced two million individually packaged bottles using this method.
Great Opportunities for Fresh Thinkers in the Industry
Companies are going to need executives who are abreast of these trends and understand the technology but also have a shrewd idea of where the print industry is going. Because of the massive innovation that is taking place, there’s going to be a need for managers who understand change management and can deliver new ways of working with different technologies.
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