17 June 2013
Xeikon touts growth of packaging, labels
TORONTO—Colour digital presses are "great" for printing labels and packaging and the market is growing, said Bob Leahey, associate director at Infotrends.

The analyst spoke June 12, followed by a presentation by Labels in Motion's Manon Chin, at the Xeikon Café presented by Xeikon and distributor Canflexographics at the Toronto Hockey Hall of Fame.

Bob Leahey addresses the Xeikon Café crowd at the Hockey Hall of Fame

Leahey pointed to the success of Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign as an example of how brands can benefit from the capabilties of colour digital label and packaging (CDLP). The campaign, first launched 2011 in Australia and rolled out across Europe in May this year, featured personalized labels where the Coca-Cola logo was replaced by the most popular first-names found in each respective market.

Leahey said the job started with a flexo or gravure template, followed by over-printing done by a colour digital press. According to Leahey, it was the largest colour digital print job ever in consumer labels, totalling 800 million versioned labels in three months and requiring upwards of 15 presses. The campaign created a strong consumer reaction that left some store shelves in disarray, he said.

Aside from campaigns featuring personalization, markets that are good fits for CDLP include nutraceuticals, private labels and wines, which Leahey said lend themselves to short runs. As well, flexible packaging and carton work can flesh out a label printer's job load.

The analyst said the market for CDLP is growing because vendors are pushing. They want to be in industrial applications like labels because other traditional markets, like newspapers, are in decline, and also because brand owners want leaner manufacturing within more targeted markets. Because of this, "label converters want short-run tools, and digital is ideal," he said.

Companies also want printing that supports the growing trend of 1:1 marketing, and printers need a digital press to meet that need. Versioning is in demand with companies that want to reach multiple ethnic groups with labels in different languages. "Go to Europe and it's dozens of languages, sometimes even in one country," Leahey said.

Inkjet presses are "getting better" and are especially good for durable labels, Leahey noted. The technology is scalable and key companies are flying the inkjet flag. Also, the price for colour digital presses is relatively high in the hundreds of thousands. But, overall and especially in short-runs, colour digital is growing within more and more markets and it is important to educate brand owners about this trend and the technology's benefits, he said.
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