Digitally printed campaigns like Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” and “The Extraordinary Collection,” using labels and sleeves, redefine the relationship between brands and their customers. The 2013 “Share a Coke” campaign substituted the Coca-Cola logo on 0.25l and 0.33l bottles of Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light and Coca-Cola Zero with 150 of the most popular names in 32 countries, 15 languages and five different alphabets. Twelve HP Indigo presses dedicated to the campaign ran 24 hours five to seven days a week, across three months, to allow this to happen.
Last year, the “Extraordinary Collection” run by Coca-Cola Israel again used the strengths of digital printing. It combined Coca-Cola’s iconic branding with colourful designs and sophisticated algorithms to produce “dynamic graphics” for a design-driven campaign where every bottle was unique. This made customers feel special and added value to the Coke experience.
On the other hand, thousands of goods are on supermarket and chemist’s shelves that have also been digitally printed. This power — attracting global attention while also carrying out cost-effective everyday label printing — underlines the versatility of the technology. However, this didn’t happen overnight.
It’s taken 10 years for digital label printing to become a mainstream method of production. This shift within the supply chain begins with early adopters using an unproven technology and moves through recognisable stages of development. Each of these steps must be completed in order and none can be skipped. It’s not until this process is complete that digitally printed flexible packaging, folding carton and corrugated production will reach the same level as labels has today.
The first usage of digitally printed packaging begins with prototyping, followed by short-runs. As confidence in the technology, quality, cost model and new supply chain is constructed, greater use will be made. Versioning come next and then mass customisation. Versioning differs from mass customisation in that it is the production of print for a specific market. Mass customization, on the other hand, tailors print for individual consumers in that market. It provides a local relationship solution to a global market.
HP predicts that this process will happen in half the time of label adoption. The shorter timeframe can be explained by the speed at which the technology is developing, and the consumer readiness and demand for the type of solution provided by digital printing. However, it will still be at least five years before all the necessary production models have been changed or adapted. While the projections show a strong future for digitally printed packaging, more than doubling from 2013 to 20181, it will still represent less than 1.5 per cent of packaging sales. Moreover, a very large percentage of that will be digitally printed labels.2
Digital packaging printing is not aiming to replace conventional production. However, digital printing does two important things. First, it gives brand owners powerful new tools to create and integrate creative campaigns for specific markets or groups of people with labels, sleeves, flexible packaging, folding cartons and corrugated applications, which engage the consumer much more than before. It also allows brands to include multi-cross media touch points, such as social and mobile apps. Secondly, it provides production flexibility and better margins for packaging converters who can use their conventional litho, flexo and gravure presses for their intended purpose: printing long runs.
It has been said that the traditional packaging industry had the responsiveness of an oil tanker, but that digital printing gives it the “agility and pace of a speedboat.”3
In time, the infrastructures of brands, designers, converters and distribution networks will all be in place and such projects as described will become part of the standard toolkit of creative sales and marketing teams.
At present, digital packaging has completed the technology development phase and the implementation and integration phases are underway. The examples we see from innovative forerunners serve to accelerate the process and give us insight into packaging’s dynamic future. Therefore, if you are a brand owner or a converter, do not miss the digital opportunity. By not moving forward, you won’t stay in the same place you are now and it will ultimately move you backwards. Printing, like everything else around us, is becoming digital.
1 The Future of Digital Printing for Packaging to 2018, Smithers Pira, 2013.
2 Labels account for 89.6 per cent of all digital packaging, World Market for Digital Packaging and Labels to Reach $15.3 billion by 2018, Smithers Pira, 2013.
3 Quoted from Silas Amos, brand strategy director, jkr speaking at HP’s interpack 2014 press conference in May 2014.
Ronen Zioni – EMEA Market Development Director, PPS GSB Hewlett-Packard Company
Ronen Zioni is the Marketing Director for the Graphic Solution Business in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), covering the entire HP Graphics portfolio, including B2B and B2C in the direct value and indirect volume business.
Ronen has been 13 years in the Graphics industry having done a variety of roles in Region sales & Business management, central roles in EMEA, as well as marketing in Scitex GBU.
He worked in Scitex GBU as product marketing for 3 years in Israel, focusing on textiles and corrugated packaging and display markets, then moved to EMEA region sales, 9 years ago. Ronen was leading Scitex product portfolio sales into the two above mentioned industries when HP acquired Scitex at a European level. He managed the Sign & Display business in three of EMEA sub-regions: Iberia, France and Italy with end to end responsibility. In his last role before his current, Ronen ran Sign & Display Aftermarket for EMEA which he has built as a GTM sales unit which focused on Services sales on top of supplies and media to the EMEA customer & channel base.
Ronen brings to the EMEA GSB Marketing position a very strong graphics market back ground in dealing with B2B customer facing sales motions and extensive business management experience.
A native of Israel, Ronen holds a University degree in Economics & Business Management from the Bar-Ilhan University in Tel Aviv, and speaks several European languages. Ronen is based in Barcelona, Spain, with his wife and 3 children.