Shelf Space: Seeking the Moment of Truth

Bill Cecil of MeadWestVaco calls that instant when a shopper pulls a package off a shelf and puts it in their cart “the moment of truth.” It’s when marketing, presentation and desire converge—and it’s a big reason why packaging is so important.

Package printers and converters are the last step in a long chain of events that help drive purchase decisions. It’s why every label, pouch, paperboard container, flexible wrapping, and more has to be as perfect as possible.

That perfection comes in many forms. The material used, its look and feel, the brand image it conveys, and how that image relates to a company’s marketing strategy and the promise behind every brand. It’s a big part of what enables shoppers to walk down an aisle and snatch a product off a shelf with hardly a glance, knowing that it will be what they expect because the printed package represents the brand. And in many ways even is the brand.

The nuances of how all this comes to be has long involved a mix of technologies, and many of the most successful packaging and converting companies are masters of the art of adopting and integrating different technologies into their operations. This month we offer up Luminer Converting as an example how a conventional converter has successfully made inkjet digital printing an important part of an established conventional shop. The move brings new skills, new capabilities, and new potential for Luminer’s future.

Yet such moves can be and have often been somewhat sketchy propositions. However complementary analog and digital printing options can be, digital presses and packaging have often seemed to be awkward partners. One critical barrier to acceptance has been a range of available digital substrates that raised more limitations than opportunities. This is not the case any longer, as I found in talking with several press suppliers for this month’s story on substrates for digital presses. Refining ink, toner, and substrate surface chemistries, press vendors and substrate firms alike have invested in developing and bringing to market substrates that enable package printers and converters to use digital presses for an increasing range of applications that can add additional value. And more importantly, the suppliers are eager to help printers work with new substrates that will delight their customers.

Substrates are also part of this issue’s story about the beverage segment, a space that, with the exception of some labels, is generally not ideal for digital systems. Beverage packaging is a relatively flat market in terms of volume, yet it is a space filled with innovation and new ways of satisfying customers and inciting that moment of truth.

Kind regards,

Noel Ward

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