We have all been hearing about the “paperless future” for decades now, but it hasn’t really happened yet. In fact, the internet has actually increased paper usage since 1990, with the average internet user printing about 27 pages per day.
Packaging is one area that has continued to grow and is projected to grow steadily into the foreseeable future. For example, think about all the boxes that Amazon uses in a year, or all the paper packaging you get from a to-go or other fast-food meal. The lockdowns of 2020 and the dramatic growth of e-commerce only increased the demand for packaging.
Anyone who has or has access to a color digital press can participate in the high-end packaging market. Packaging printing is the “tip of the spear” in the digital and offset printing vertical markets. Packaging is where the steady growth is and will be. And you don’t need specialized equipment to compete successfully. Remember that consumers typically see packaging before they see the actual product, and that represents a huge opportunity to make a great first impression. Great products deserve great packaging!
The rise of small quantity “bespoke” products has given a huge boost to short-run “boutique” packaging printing. You don’t need a huge offset press or flexographic printing device to be in the packaging printing business. All you need is a typical commercial quality color digital press to produce award-winning packaging. Box wraps can be produced on 60# coated text weight paper, while other types of consumer packaging like the back of plastic blister packaging can be printed on any number of stocks in the 350 to 400 gsm range.
“Impulse buying” is still a major consumer behavior. The next time you are in a store, look around at the items that are displayed on aisle endcaps, and in and around the checkout areas. Attention-getting packaging is critical for consumer products that are targeted for impulse purchasing. Research indicates that up to 70% of all consumer purchasing decisions are made in-store, whether the purchaser had the pre-meditated intention of buying or not. To a large degree, packaging determines how successful a product will be when it comes to a last-minute consumer buying decision.
Large manufacturers no longer have a hammer lock on the high-end consumer packaging market. Just about any commercial print shop large or small can compete in this lucrative and growing market segment and everyone has the opportunity to sell locally, regionally, and globally. Social media is a major marketing channel for promoting packaging and impacting consumer buying decisions. The big trend on Instagram over the last few years is the photographing of meals, food, and drinks before they are consumed. Images and videos of new items being received and removed from their packaging is another growing trend as most people purchased items online during the past 15 months. People would spend as much time focused on the packaging as they did on the purchased item itself, especially if there was something special or creative about the packaging or wrappers that the item was inside of.
So how can a small print-for-pay business get in on the packaging trend? Historically, consumer packaging has always been expensive, especially in the short run lengths that are a perfect fit for digital printing. Without a digital press, printing companies would have to produce long print runs of packaging in order to achieve a reasonable and profitable cost-per-unit. Today’s digital printing technology and the ability to print quantities as small as one has leveled the playing field for smaller printing operations.
Digital printing technology puts high quality and print-on-demand capabilities within easy reach of even the smallest printing operations. Likewise, smaller and smaller manufacturing footprints can be achieved by just-in-time print order fulfilment and the elimination of the physical inventory of printed items. This makes digital packaging printing a hand-in-glove fit for e-commerce packaging.
Eliminating the storage of printed items allows retailers to keep their packaging from becoming obsolete. Packaging designers and marketers have better access to the digital print technologies that allow for ease of test marketing and the rapid development of packaging prototypes. Add the one-to-one possibilities of variable data printing, and retail mass marketers can achieve best-in-class marketing and consumer behavior outcomes.
Personalization is the “Holy Grail” of customer experience. Imagine consumers being able to specify personalization or audience-of-one messaging on consumer packaging. Marketers would no longer have to expand their budgets…happy and excited consumers would be sharing their personalized packaging experiences all over every social media platform! The only limitation is the imagination of the marketer and the packaging designer.
If you are a marketing professional, a packaging designer, a retailer, or a commercial printer, the power of today’s ever-improving digital printing and labelling technology is within easy reach. These affordable and readily available devices can give you the power of attractive, impactful, and powerful packaging printing capabilities. Click here to contact one of our Commercial and Industrial Printing specialists and learn more about this lucrative and growing business segment.