The Year of the Unboxing

February 9, 2021

While 2020 was devastating for an innumerate amount of varied businesses nationwide, it was particularly fruitful for a few particular industries that work hand in hand. Shifts in human behavior have resulted in a banner 2020 for digital retail, with people staying at home more often and shopping online. During the COVID-19 crisis, e-commerce experienced 21% growth globally. With the majority of products needing packaging and labels, these two print segments experienced amazing growth; labeling has grown to a $13B business with corrugated print at $29B. The pandemic had a positive impact on packaging demand with forecasted growth of 4.5% CAGR. As more and more people continue to shop online, this number could possibly double due to the increased consumer demand on these new businesses.

If we think about the businesses that were driving the sales during the pandemic, most of them were “homegrown.” You can’t get much closer to the true definition of a small business than a candle-making start up in your own garage. I suppose we can blame boredom, or just having enough time for one to follow their passions. In any case, all 6.3 million of these brand new businesses needed labels and packaging, but their print runs were too small for the larger label converters to supply at a reasonably affordable cost.  However, those printers with entry-level machines were able to increase their revenue by serving this community of new business owners.

Johnathan Ray – General Manager, GBA Printing, stated in our most recent virtual event, Labels and Packaging Day, that he suffered losses in every category of his business except labels and packaging during the height of the pandemic. “Larger printers do not want to do small print runs – that’s where we get the best opportunity is with the smaller companies. So we were able to take advantage of these chances to work with smaller businesses that all had less than 500 prints for each run. We were able to offer them better efficiency faster and we were able to pay close attention to detail.”

These small businesses really took advantage of the post point-of-sale interactions with customers. As we evolved to fewer in-person retail experiences and more online purchasing, we saw just how impactful packaging and labeling were in driving brand experiences. Retailers found the need to differentiate their branding and make the unboxing of their goods unique and special for customers, since it was their only real interaction and it was after the point of sale. As a result, printers are looking to meet the demand with shorter runs and the ability to offer brand owners options. Entry-level products such as Konica Minolta’s PLS-475i and AccurioLabel 230 can help printers accommodate their customers and be able to grow their businesses.

Andrew Moye – Director of Production Print, Bourne Brothers Printing said during Labels and Packaging Day that his labels and packaging business remained seemingly status quo during the pandemic because of all the new businesses that were created. He was really happy to bring all of his labels and packaging offerings in house as well. “When we took labels in house instead of sending them out to be done, where we had no control over their quality, we were able to provide a better product to our customers and we were able to upsell those customers with more services.  Since bringing these machines in house, we have seen steady growth.”

The high demand for packaging and labels has also created a tremendous opportunity for embellishment, personalization and creating a differentiated unboxing experience that can boost a product’s value. Companies hope customers’ excitement from receiving their products and engaging with their packaging will be shared via social media for some “free” marketing for the brand to create not only new customers, but returning ones as well.  There is nothing quite like the gratification of opening your front door to an ordained box. And if that sense of WOW can be achieved, there is no doubt a consumer will want to relive it over again by purchasing more.

Rethink Print

The growth of labels and packaging presents tremendous market opportunities because it allows printers to streamline their everyday duties. 2021 will bring new chances for printers to step up their production game and increase their output to grow their business, just as long as they have the right tools. For more information on Konica Minolta’s array of print production options visit

Dino Pagliarello
Senior Vice President, Product Management and Planning

Dino Pagliarello is responsible for Konica Minolta’s portfolio of industry award-winning office and graphic communications technology within the U.S. He leads a team of product planning and marketing experts that bring new products to market, from multi-functional printers for the office to high-end industrial printing equipment, overseeing the complete life-cycle of these devices. With more than 19 years at the company, Dino has accumulated extensive experience in all facets of the business, and works collaboratively with a global engineering team to share his knowledge of the production and industrial print market. He holds a BS in International Business from Ramapo College.