The Universe is Changing. Again (with Advent of Digital Packaging and Labels)
The Coke project is just an example of what can be done. Think bigger. For instance, it’s not hard to envision a hair care products company offering shampoos and conditioners in seaside vacation areas that are formulated to combat the effects of sun and salt water. And having different labels for Florida, California, Hawaii, Cancun, Jamaica, and the Jersey Shore. Or labeling products for markets with richer ethnic mixes or vacation areas where some visitors speak a different language. This can certainly be done without digital print, but the cost associated with conventional printing makes it unaffordable.
The advantage is for brand owners eager to do anything they can to grow awareness and expand share by fractions of a point. If localizing packaging, targeting an audience, or having a personalized label as a promotion will help, many brand owners will listen eagerly to their ad agency and a capable print provider who can help give them an edge on retail shelves.
Advertising on TV, in print and online may help steer a consumer to a given brand, but it’s packaging and point-of-purchase displays that bear the iconic brand image that people reach for when walking the aisles of Publix, WalMart, Safeway and Target. The battle for consumers’ wallets is being fought on multiple fronts. Packaging and labeling are a critical way to underscore a brand promise, and can translate into opportunity for print providers.
Coming around again
Interestingly, this is pretty much the same story I was telling 13 years ago about the digital presses that were then targeting the production print market. Back then, the applications were books, marketing collateral, bills and statements, direct mail, and other documents that fit letter or tabloid-sized pages. Now most of those digital apps are mainstream while offset still handles the longer runs. Digital production is taking a larger share and the offset press vendors—and some of their customers—are scrambling for survival. Will the same be true for labels and packaging?