In an increasingly-global label market, there is a real need for a ‘living’ network for the whole base of industry players, sharing information and knowledge, transcending the boundaries of countries and languages. Within less than three years, the L9 – the global collective of label industry associations, of which FINAT is a founder member – has made enormous strides in this direction, sharing knowledge and experience on sustainability and recycling; jointly promoting the label industry’s ‘best-in-class’ at the World Label Awards; introducing benchmarking and standardised best practices; And thus bringing benefits for all members and their end-user customers.
Label content is becoming increasingly an issue as the requirements of brand owner and retailer are transcended by the requirements of legislation on information and food safety, security and logistics input, and customer-accessible additional information via QR codes and similar devices. As a result of this broader agenda for label content, label size has increased; and leaflet label usage has grown considerably – particularly for pharmaceuticals. In the pharmaceutical field in particular, in the face of growing instances of counterfeiting, the addition of Braille content, and overt and covert security and track-and-trace devices is extensive.
In this context, there are real opportunities for label printers to engage with commercial packaging companies – in cartons, for example – to add value in terms of enhanced customer experience and engagement with a particular brand. Self-adhesive labels can certainly enable mainstream sectors of the packaging industry to benefit from 21st century brand identification strategies, without the need to change their core technology base.
The self-adhesive label converting industry came into existence very much as a family concern, based on small businesses, initially serving regional or specialist markets. The international nature of today’s leading brands and growing globalisation have necessarily changed the face of the industry via a continuing stream of mergers and acquisitions. However, the industry values its origins, and there is a strong desire to retain the ‘family’ aspects of the business, even in the context of ‘growing’ the company.
As a relatively young industry in the context of printing, and a downstream user of a variety of raw materials, there are many things label converters can learn from old-established industries like paper and board, and from new packaging formats like flexible packaging. Their successes can be analysed, and could indeed be replicated in part in label converting businesses. Equally, there are lessons to be learned from other industries about what NOT to do.
Packaging has come a long way since the original paper bag – and labelling has had to move with the times to embrace developments that have encompassed tin cans, plastic bottles, and flexible packaging. Self-adhesive labels have proved themselves perfect, innovative partners in all these developments. They continue to represent a dynamic and creative sector of the packaging chain, offering unparalleled flexibility and versatility. What is more, they are the product of a value chain that is deeply committed to sustainability, lean manufacturing, and – above all – meeting the buyers’ needs in terms of aesthetics, applied performance, and price.
Labels: adding value to packaging