Get it right the first time. Do it over and over the exact same way. Keep it simple. Don’t let anything get lost in translation. These four points dominated the discussion in the opening half hour of the Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association’s 2009 Fall Conference, held last week in Cincinnati, OH, USA. They were delivered by Paul France, principal engineer, technology entrepreneur, printing and substrates, packaging development for Procter & Gamble, and directed to about 170 flexographers in attendance
France’s address, titled “Color Through the Eyes of a Consumer Products Company,” began with his call for the establishment of partnerships with innovators in assessing what’s needed, then implementing what’s possible. He said that CPCs’ overriding concerns relevant to packaging are shelf stopping power, holding power and buying power.
A CPC’s major needs, he says, are scale and speed, global distribution and material and technology range. P&G owns and manufactures 23 billion-dollar brands that come in anything from pouches, bottles, cartons and blister packs to aerosol cans. The packaging it utilizes today contains more and more photos than ever before, relies heavily on increased use of halftones and vignettes, and might even be printed on holographic foil or other decorative and challenging materials.
Multi-faceted challenges are commonly put to printer partners of CPCs similar to P&G, according to France. He listed five that matter most:
• Getting it right the first time. “Printing materials must match the target artwork and align on both color and content, which can be the hardest part of the job,” he said.
• Repeatability – printrun to printrun.
• Color simplification – one course to follow, development of a color library. “P&G’s hope is to move from 2,000 colors to 400 or 500.”
• Common FMOT (first moment of truth) language parameters. “Consumers don’t speak L*a*b* or Delta E. They say ‘warm and fuzzy.’ Designers, color separators and printers have to understand those words and easily translate them back to technical terms.”
• Consumer relevant and noticeable FMOTs. “Has anyone heard of sustainability and e-commerce?” France asked.
His closing observation: “Color is a key driver to a win – a.k.a. sale – at the first moment of truth: the four to five seconds a shopper spends looking at a package on a store shelf in deciding to reach for the product or pass it by.”
France’s was one of 20 individual presentations delivered in seven separate sessions at FFTA’s Fall Conference, themed “Color in the Crosshairs: Taking Aim at Repeatable Predictable Color.” The event was supplemented by a tabletop exhibition showcasing the wares of 29 individual suppliers.