Pandemics has changed everything in industries, and for goods labeling and packaging was no exception, given the e-commerce boost, which triggered the need to package more products, particularly those that had their demand increased, such as food and ready meals, games, alcohol, or training equipment, in addition to home medical test kits and vaccine kits.
In addition, during the lockdown, consumers paid more attention to the arrival of their packages, so labels and packing has played a more important marketing role than ever before, and a unique opportunity to create a special connection with the consumer.
Moreover, there is a third factor changing this industry: today's consumers care about the materials and environmental impact of packing. That must be considered.
All of these aspects are bringing new ways of doing things in packaging and labeling into the new normal.
These are the most important ones:
Digital printing solutions
By having the ability to be adaptable to short-run production needs, as well as customization and faster turnaround times, digital printing has become the best way to keep pace with customer demands, as well as being more cost-effective and efficient.
For many companies that adopted it during the pandemics, it not only improved the production of prototypes and short-run samples, but it also reduced the need for inventory and its associated costs, which undoubtedly represent valuable benefits.
In addition, there is now a digital printing device for every budget and printing room size, so the investment costs, once a typical barrier to entry or to expand businesses in the packaging market has become more affordable.
Hybrid /inkjet printing: the best of both worlds
At the same time, printing companies are investing to offer combined digital and conventional technologies to benefit from both in a one-step process.
Creating a "hybrid" printing system involves adding an inkjet-powered printing engine (an "upgrade") to an existing analog printing house, also improving turnaround times.
The evolution of packaging: from functional container to brand ambassador
As mentioned before, containers and packing has expanded their own role in the market at all levels, from the container that transports products to the label that identifies them individually, including marketing vehicles: today all these elements speak of the level of quality and represent a marketing opportunity that cannot be missed, as they make a strong first impression on consumers, and even, nowadays, are often the first experience of a customer with a brand.
Attractive packaging is already a priority. In addition, the printing industry is looking for different ways to improve its packaging ability to attract customers, by offering customization, different versions, smart packaging, higher quality design, greater compliance with regulatory issues in printed information, etc.
Today, customers demand transparency about materials, their impact on the environment, the ethics of their acquisition, and, in general, the sustainability of the entire packaging process. In other words, the impact of labels and packaging on the environment is more important than ever to consumers, and this premise is influencing designs, printing processes and, in general, suppliers' choices regarding this matter.
It also means to reduce packaging to the least needed, which means that companies should focus on quality rather than quantity when choosing their packaging.
In addition, packaging is one of the most visible ways to demonstrate commitment to sustainability. By using recycled and recyclable materials, as well as printing processes that eliminate chemicals and reduce waste, more sustainable packaging is being developed.
Digital shop windows for labels and packaging
The online marketplace growth has led to the emergence of digital shop windows that offer those who buy labels and packing access to short runs and quick turnaround times, as well as being able to serve customers previously excluded from the market due to high minimum order quantities.
Connection to the screen
The new normal left us the relationship with screens as an important issue, and that means companies must start using labels and packing that can be digitally translated, both to provide comprehensive information that builds trust, and to tell a story about the product and brand.
The design: add art and color
Packaging and labels can be simple, but should not be "simplistic". Nowadays, they are printed with illustrations created by artists, integrated either into the design or as a stand-alone focal point. For consumers, the beauty of the packaging is directly connected to the beauty of the product.
And on the design matter: Solid colors are a trend in 2021, with geometric shapes and bright tones dominating labels and packaging.
Finally, evolving in this changing marketplace is necessary for business success, so identifying these trends and planning strategies to address them will allow suppliers to stay one step ahead of the competition and increase business opportunities.