When will Packaging Join the Digital Print Revolution?

Personalised Can Printing - an Exciting Future for Craft Drinks
Personalised Can Printing - an Exciting Future for Craft Drinks

In December, I attended the Digital Print for Packaging Conference in London and it was very interesting event with plenty of thought provoking presentations and discussions.

It also reminded me that sometimes, the small guy can finish first.

Why? Because listening to an expert panel, it is evident that there is change afoot with digital printing for packaging, but exactly what, isn't clear if one listens or observes some of the large FMCG brands.

Two gentlemen were discussing the development of digital print for packaging. And the essence of what they were saying was broadly OK, but just a little bit uninspiring. For impatient people like me, change can sometimes seem glacial, particularly with regard to large companies.

That said, I am sure there is a huge amount going on underneath tip of the iceberg.

In contrast, in an earlier presentation, delivered by Adrian Corke, an entrepreneur from Staffordshire Brewery, it was clear to me smaller companies are the ones that tend to make things happen. From their kitchen table, lounge room and bedroom to a highly successful beer and label business – the Staffordshire Brewery story is proof that a market for quality local produce and entrepreneurial spirit really gets things done. And quickly. To me this seemed in marked contrast to the big companies.

Unless you are Coke of course. Chris Tonge, owner of Ultimate Packaging, who was part of the same panel, (a game changer himself), made the point that it took a rule breaker from within Coke to do something relatively revolutionary. And it is a good job that they did, as the marketing impact was immense! With social media going mad about the campaign, not to mention people eagerly buying their specific Coke bottle with their name on it.

But as far as I can tell (I would be delighted to stand corrected so please let me know), that on a noticeable level, not very much else seems to have happened since then, apart from Coke running another very successful summer campaign in 2014 that is.

Again though, it could be the smaller companies that are using it, but it isn’t as noticeable because volumes are smaller and the focus is such that it reaches out to specific as opposed to generalist audiences. The growth of craft drinks production is truly set to make an impact and this is where the digital print revolution could really take off. Craft drink entrepreneurs can move quicker and are very creative indeed and will see the benefits, of short run, indeed of anything that might help them to sell their product and grow their business. They will simply leapfrog analogue to digital.

Tonejet, who sponsored the conference, and will be exhibiting at InPrint, stole the show from a marketing perspective by showcasing the innovative potential of their technology by making a pre-packed, personalised digitally printed Christmas gift for each delegate.

When will Packaging Join the Digital Printing Revolution?
When will Packaging Join the Digital Printing Revolution?

With compelling digital technology that enables such personalisation, there is clearly movement in the packaging sector towards joining the digital print revolution. It would just be nice if it was a bit more visible and perhaps some of the big guys took a risk and went for it. That said, it is the smaller companies where we will see true innovative uses of digital technology. They have smaller, more manageable supply chains, less to risk, and arguably more to gain by breaking the rules.

Proving that some of the time, small guys can indeed finish first.

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