What to Expect at the Digital Packaging Summit
Now in its third year, the Digital Packaging Summit has emerged as the industry’s premier event to connect converters and suppliers for in-depth conversations surrounding the latest in digital technology. The event’s unique format brings leading package printing executives who are serious about exploring digital technology together for three days of educational sessions, case study presentations from vendors, and one-on-one meetings with the top digital printing suppliers to discuss solutions that are right for their businesses.
The 2017 Digital Packaging Summit, which will be held from Oct. 23-25 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., will feature two new co-chairs. Jennifer Dochstader and David Walsh, co-founders of LPC, Inc., an Austin, Texas-based market research and technical PR firm specializing in the packaging industry, will lead the conference and present some of their latest findings.
packagePRINTING: What do you think is the importance of an event like the Digital Packaging Summit to the industry?
Jennifer Dochstader: When it comes to suppliers and converters looking for detailed information about digitally printed packaging, whether it’s data on benchmarking, market trending, historical growth data, or projected adoption rates, there’s next to nothing in public domain.
As a result, there’s an absolute requirement to have an event solely focused on digital within printed packaging, where you not only have the primary suppliers there but an audience full of converters across packaging subsectors and then, on stage, presenters and true industry experts in digital.
David Walsh: When Jennifer and I first started talking about taking part in this and chairing it, the thing that got me most excited was the limited amount of people. This event will have a different level of focus and energy about it, as a direct result of the unusual, if not unique setup; an exclusive group of specifically invited participants.
pP: Since the Digital Packaging Summit debuted in 2015, there have been some major developments in digital technology. What have been some of the key aspects to digital’s evolution?
JD: We’re seeing digital positioned to viably capture conventional market share. 2014 was the first year digital label narrow web presses outsold conventional and now the installation of digital is outpacing conventional. Over the past three years we have really seen movement into some of these run sizes that were once the domain of conventional with a wider, faster press.
DW: Since 2014, a lot of significant players who weren’t early adopters have felt the need to get off the fence. Three years ago some of these folks were saying, “I don’t know if I’m even going to buy a digital press,” but now of course they have.
pP: For the first time, this year’s event has expanded beyond labels and folding cartons and will now include content for corrugated converters. What are the opportunities for corrugated converters?
DW: While their business is different in some aspects, most of those we have dealt with share the same traits converters do everywhere; they’re entrepreneurial businessmen facing similar pressures. It’s an interesting opportunity if you’re in corrugated to learn from the guys who have jumped into digital in the other sectors.
JD: Graphics are becoming increasingly complex for corrugated and they’re having to strategize if they want to do that with a corrugated flexo press, or what the advantages are that a digital press could offer. This is the only event of its kind that I know about that speaks to the corrugated industry.
pP: Another of the Summit’s goals is to help package printers better market digital capabilities to brand owners. What is the importance of helping them develop this connection?
JD: It’s more important than ever before that converters successfully and effectively communicate their specialization. For decades, the label-converting industry has been one of generalists — companies willing to be all things to all clients and serving a wide range of end-use sectors. Today, label converters are becoming more specialized. Some of these companies are serving three or four primary end-use sectors and this is advantageous when it comes to positioning their company in front of customers and prospects.
You find those areas you specialize in and digital is the perfect opportunity to do that. Once you have that digital press on your production floor, you become a ‘digital specialist’ and can position your company that way. An expert at high quality, shortest turnaround production for the smallest job sizes.
DW: When we start working with our converter clients the first thing we ask them is what they specialize in.
There’s still this notion that they need to be everything to everyone, but they’re realizing there are marketing and positioning gains to be made another way.
pP: Part of the value of the Digital Packaging Summit is in how it differs from other conferences. What do you see as the key benefits to the event’s format?
JD: The busiest booths at trade shows are the digital press suppliers’ booths. We’re breaking right through that. You can have discussions with whomever you want, ask them whatever you want and they develop case studies relevant to you.
DW: If I were going to buy a digital press the one event I would want to attend to understand the real-world challenges and opportunities associated with my investment would be this one. There’s nothing else like it.