Digital Printing Opportunities in the Packaging Segment
Digital print has taken hold in several areas in commercial print and book publishing, driven by the need to maximize the return on the investment (ROI) in print. However, packaging print, book printing, and commercial printing are all very different. Books are printed, sold, shipped, inventoried, and often unsold and returned. Print-on-demand has proven to be an effective way to reduce waste. Variable data printing (VDP) and personalization have been shown to increase the effectiveness of direct mail. Can these value propositions apply to digital print for packaging? If so, why haven’t we seen more digital print in packaging?
Packaging includes metal and glass containers, corrugated, folding cartons, and flexible packaging. Corrugated also includes litholam, where a paperboard top sheet is printed, generally offset (litho), and laminated (lam) to corrugated for point-of-sale displays and cartons. The litholam top sheet is typically a coated cover or folding carton grade of paperboard. Packages also have labels, of course, and it is labels that have seen the greatest development in digital print for packaging.
Mark Hanley of IT Strategies explains, “The value proposition is understood to be very high by those who know. In the last five years, the [consumer target] market has fragmented, and one product may be sold in five different versions. This can lead to five runs of 10,000 rather than one run of 50,000, and for some sub-segments, 10,000 is near the break-even point.”
Kevin Karstedt of Karstedt Partners advises that, according to their new report, “Is Digital Printing Part of Your Brand or Operational Strategy,” “The ultimate success or failure of digital printing in the packaging market depends on how well the three critical legs of the supply chain work together: consumer product company (CPC), print service provider/converter, and technology developer/OEM.”
Based on more than 400 interviews with a variety of CPCs, Karstedt concludes that “there is a meaningful business opportunity for the concept of digital printing among a broad cross section of market and customer segments,” and adds that “approximately 50 percent of respondents note that their customers demand more customization of products and services.”
Jack Miller is founder and Principal Consultant at Market-Intell LLC, offering Need to Know™ market intelligence in paper, print and packaging. Previously, he was senior consultant, North America, with Pira International.
Known as the Paper Guru, Jack is the former director of Market Intelligence with Domtar, where he also held positions as regional sales manager, territory sales manager and product manager. He has presented at On Demand, RISI’s Global Outlook, PRIMIR, SustainCom World and at various IntertechPira conferences. Jack has written for Printing Impressions, Canadian Printer, Paper 360, PaperTree Letter and Package Printing, along with publishing a monthly e-newsletter, MarketIntellibits.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from The College of the Holy Cross and has done graduate studies in Statistics and Finance.