The Packaging and Labels Revival

January 26, 2021

So much has changed going into this year, but with that change comes the opportunity for businesses to reinvent themselves to better meet the needs of their customers. There is an ever-increasing shift from in-store to online shopping, which is not new, but according to a recent RBC Capital Markets survey, 42 percent of surveyed consumers now purchase groceries online at least once per week. That number is up almost half from a similar RBC survey conducted in 2018. This is truly a fortuitous chance for many consumer brand owners to develop a closer connection to their customers by enhancing their packaging and labels.

Current events have triggered a surge of new consumer habits, with McKinsey & Company reporting an astonishing 75 percent of U.S. consumers trying a new shopping behavior in response to economic pressures, store closings and changing priorities. They predict this trend will continue and for consumers to try other brands, as 36 percent report they have recently tried a new product brand. McKinsey also stated that of the consumers who have tried different brands, 73 percent intend to continue to incorporate the new brands into their routine. For many brand owners, the customers’ decreased in-store interaction and experience means the first or continued connection to their customers will now be through packaging and labels.

And so, more shopping online is leading to a shift in how consumers behave and relate to the brands of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG.) This shift in behavior opens up an enormous opportunity for brands (and commercial printers working for brands) to redefine the brand experience. Through enhanced print features such as unique and attractive packaging and labels, combined with the consumer unboxing experience, brand owners who are making better connections to their customers are winning.

Packaging and Labels – the New Brand Experience

For decades, brands have used packaging and labels to distinguish their products on display shelves in grocery and department stores. With the rise of eCommerce, packaging and labels have become less of an optical differentiator and more of the consumers’ only experience and connection with the brand. With digital inkjet presses, brand owners and commercial printers can use variable data, versioning and personalization to create unique packaging and labels leading to exciting new brand experiences for customers, from unboxing a package to engaging label details. An option to really personalize packaging and product labels, on a one-to-one level with digital printing, was not previously available to brand owners relying on traditional analog flexographic presses.

In the competitive landscape of online shopping with the goal of winning continued wallet-share of the consumer, brands who rethink packaging and label designs are coming out ahead. Labels especially play a key role in making the brand connection with the consumer because the label on the container serves several purposes. It represents the brand and its values from all sides, and in many cases, consumers can judge the product and brand by its label design. In addition to the importance of branding the product, the label also lists directions on how to use the product, required local, state and federal information, and recycling/environmental safety instructions, among other things. Think about the popularity of the recent Coca Cola soda bottles with individuals’ names on the labels. Even smaller brands now have the opportunity to customize labels to make that kind of connection and impact.

As a result, we have seen a rise in demand for inkjet-powered digital packaging and labeling printing for several years now. Smithers, a research leader in this market, forecasted in their report, The Future of Inkjet Printing, that the use of inkjet for direct-to-package printing will increase by 25 percent each year from 2018 through 2023.

With easier, more affordable access to inkjet package printing technology, now is the right time for brands to use these personalized methods of package printing to connect with their consumers in a special way. This is so important because according to Forbes, 60 to 80 percent of eCommerce customers do not return shop with the same brands, regardless of whether the experience was positive or not.  Brand owners in these market conditions need to find unique and creative ways to capture their consumers’ attention and keep them loyal to their brand.

Adding Value through Creativity

Highly personalized packages make a connection with consumers. Brand owners would do well to know that consumers surveyed in a report authored by Dotcom Distribution said they were more likely to make a repeat purchase if their order came with freebies and personalized messages on the packaging. Inkjet-powered packaging and label presses, with their ability to print short runs, personalized messages using variable data and version messaging at no additional cost are a perfect fit for brands looking to get creative and establish a more memorable connection to their customer.

Brand owners and commercial printers/converters should stretch and develop those unique ideas. For example:

  • Put the customer’s name on a package
  • Make up short runs that coincide with regional activities or events
  • Add trans-promotional materials on or inside the box
  • Use augmented reality to enhance the experience for customers
  • Proudly display affiliations with nonprofits and efforts toward social responsibility

Think about how different of an experience it would be for consumers, who may feel isolated or have limited social interactions, to receive something special to brighten their day. You can make things like this happen – building connections and relationships – using digital packaging and label presses.

The Konica Minolta and Memjet Partnership

Konica Minolta has offered digital packaging and label presses for many years now, giving our customers, commercial printers and brand owners the opportunity to create clever, customized graphic communications for their packaging. And partnering with Memjet, a leading and well-respected manufacturer of inkjet heads and inks, we’ve developed innovative products using their time-tested and industry-proven technology.  These products include:

  • Digital Packaging Printer PKG-675i – developed to print on a range of corrugated materials, including folding cartons, displays, and traditional cardboard boxes.
  • Digital Label Press PLS-475i – a high-speed press to print on continuous roll or pre-die-cut media up to 9.5″ wide on a variety of substrates.

From this partnership, a cooperative effort to share knowledge and research was also born. As such, Memjet recently shared a rather timely whitepaper with Konica Minolta titled, The New Normal: eCommerce and Packaging Post Covid.  Take a look for useful insights and tips that brand owners (and commercial printers serving brands) will find valuable.

Download Memjet’s Whitepaper, The New Normal: eCommerce and Packaging in a Post-Covid World

For more information about Konica Minolta’s package and label products using Memjet inkjet technology, please visit the following links for:

Ed Bokuniewicz
Manager, Product Marketing Industrial Print Products

Ed Bokuniewicz is a 35-year veteran within the graphic arts industry in the areas of marketing, management, business development, sales and sales support. His prime focus is in print production from Offset & Flexography to Digital Print. Ed joined Konica Minolta in 2017 in the Product Marketing/Management area for Industrial Print and currently has responsibility for the AccurioJet KM-1 solution. He also assists with the Wide Format solutions. He also is an Adjunct Professor at the New York City College of Technology where he teaches undergraduate students about production printing. In his spare time he plays golf, cooks, plays and listens to music, and spends time with his family.