How a Digital Label Press Changes Everything
Labeling has become a marketing and branding tool every bit as critical as any other tool in a marketer’s toolbox. Distributors who understand the label market put themselves in a position to expand their books of business and add more value to their customer relationships than ever before. They can do this by helping their customers see the full range of (truly mind-boggling) opportunities.
As a market, labels are exploding. It's not just prime labels. The market for industrial (or durable) labels is exploding, as well. Products need to be packaged, marketed, and sold. But on an operational level, they also need to be identified, warehoused, and shipped. On the operational side, this requires durable labels that must stand up to a wide variety of environmental stressors such as extreme temperatures, moisture and humidity, and exposure to chemicals.
Two different types of labels means two different types of profit opportunities.
Four Top Labeling Trends
Whether prime or durable, what are the primary trends driving changes in the label marketplace right now? There are four, in particular, that distributors should know:
1. Personalization. Increasingly, customers want their shopping experiences (including the labeling of the products they buy) to reflect their wants and needs. Seventy percent of shoppers say they are willing to pay at least 10% more for personalized products.
2. Multi-SKUs and short lifecycles. The number of SKUs is growing while product lifecycles are shrinking. Shein, one of the major players in the fast fashion market, for example, releases thousands of new SKUs every day. (Yes, every day!) While Shein is on the extreme end of the scale, the trend toward more SKUs and shortened lifecycles is well-entrenched as consumers have become accustomed to having a wide range of options (more SKUs) and the thrill of something new (short product lifecycles).
3. Sustainability. It’s not new news that sustainability has become critical for both marketers and their vendors alike. But, it’s a trend that continues to grow. A survey from Trivium Packaging found that 71% of consumers have chosen a product in the last six months based on its sustainability credentials, and 82% of consumers across age demographics showed a willingness to pay more for sustainable packaging.
4. Rise of small brands. Small brands are looking to play like big brands, and big brands want to act like small ones (i.e, fast and agile).
Translating Trends to the Production Floor
Here at Wise, these trends play a significant role in how we plan and invest in our business based on what we know our customers — print distributors — need to serve their customers. That’s why, last fall, we purchased an HP 6K Digital Label Press. Digital label presses can produce high runs of mass-produced labels that look like they came off an offset or flexo press. But these presses are designed to handle other requirements, too, such as:
- Strategic production
- Variable content production (including sequential numbering and barcoding)
- Randomized production
- Personalized production
- Prototyping/sample production
In addition to answering the need for personalized and customized products, digital labeling answers the need for more sustainable solutions, as well. Digital don’t require the use of plates or cylinders, and by printing on demand (eliminating waste), this reduces your customers’ carbon footprint. Digital label presses also enable a wide variety of environmentally friendly solutions, such as wash-off labels with full recyclability.
Do a Mental Inventory
In future blog posts, we’ll drill down further into the value that digital labeling brings to your customers and the many applications you can produce. Until then, why not do a mental inventory of your customers and start thinking about the possibilities? Ask yourself how many of your customers require product packaging or labeling (whether you are currently selling them labels or not) that could benefit from the transition to full digital label production.
- Would they benefit from using a print-on-demand model to reduce inventory and obsolescence?
- Do they have SKUs that they could break down into smaller, more targeted segments to appeal to specific customer niches?
- How much benefit would they receive from being able to adjust order volumes based on demand at the SKU level?
- Or by adding sequential numbering or barcoding for tracking and inventory control?
This could be one of those most important exercises you do this year. After all, access to digital label production just might be the door-opener that you’ve been looking for.