Today’s consumers have more product choices than ever before, and product manufacturers have unprecedented reach with an array of purchasing platforms, including brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce sites. Giving consumers more choices and having more places to sell products is great, but product producers also have more competitors than ever. One effective way to compete is to bring products to market quickly, identifying trends and moving fast to capitalize on them. Some trends are predictable, such as seasonal demand for certain goods and products. Other trends are cyclical, such as the popularity of store brands during economic downturns and consumer demand for luxury items during economic booms.
Other types of trends aren’t as easy to predict, but once identified, they can open up new opportunities for product manufacturers who recognize them and move quickly. For example, the rising demand for gluten-free foods can open new revenue streams for manufacturers who can design product labels to emphasize their gluten-free benefits. Evolving public perceptions about ingredients aren’t the only trend that can prompt a label change: Locally produced items are increasingly popular with consumers, which can give manufacturers who distribute nationwide or worldwide an opportunity to open a lucrative sideline by creating special labels for products that will be marketed locally.
The key is to get products to market quickly, claiming shelf space before competitors react and projecting a professional image with well-produced packaging and labels to entice buyers. But waiting for a printing house to produce a run of labels can be prohibitively expensive and take too long to enable manufacturers to fully capitalize on emerging opportunities. New printing technology can come to the rescue, giving manufacturers a way to print labels that achieve outstanding print quality for a surprisingly low price. There are desktop label printers on the market today that produce incredibly crisp text and print amazingly sharp graphics and photos using inkjet technology.
Thanks to technical advances in the industry, entry-level modern printers (desktop models) can enable manufacturers to produce full-color labels at the rate of one per second. This allows manufacturers to quickly respond to changing product demand and avoid the delays and costs associated with relying on printing houses. Manufacturers with more robust printing needs can now purchase digital label printing and application systems that match the color quality and vibrancy of the digital presses used by printing houses, which typically cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Both inkjet and digital label printing systems allow manufacturers to design labels and begin printing in minutes.
Another advantage modern printing technology delivers is the ability to print labels on a variety of materials in-house. With modern digital label printing technology, manufacturers can print labels that are water, scratch, smudge and tear-resistant. This ensures that they stand up to the rigors of shipping and shelf placement as well or better than their printing house-produced counterparts. In addition to speed and quality, in-house printing using modern printing technology allows manufacturers to save money on the front and back end of the label production process. Printing houses generally charge more for short runs. Manufacturers who opt for larger orders are often left with an inventory of unusable labels once they shift market focus.
For manufacturing companies that are looking for new methods to bring their products to market faster, modern printing technology offers a way to quickly design new labels, print them in short runs and apply them consistently to maximize shelf appeal. By improving flexibility and control, new printing technology can give manufacturers the tools they need to compete and win in a rapidly changing marketplace.
About the author: Amber Jechort is product manager at Primera Technology, a Plymouth, MN-based developer and manufacturer of specialty printing equipment.