Expert's Opinion

How to keep labeling in the fast track

By Jules Lejeune, Managing Director, FINAT | February 28, 2017

The world of self-adhesives is synonymous with innovation and change, and the people who started the business are retiring.

The world of self-adhesives is synonymous with innovation and change, and it was an international army of innovative young printers who, back in the 1950s, joined hands with self-adhesive labelstock suppliers, press manufacturers, and automatic label application equipment manufacturers to create a revolution in a key aspect of packaging print.

Today, while many small local and regional printers who nurtured this revolution have become major corporations – some of them international – the people who started the business are, 50 years on, retiring.   

Many want their offspring to continue the work they began, so it’s time for generation change. That can be complicated and difficult to manage without creating emotional conflict, but it’s happening today in many FINAT member companies. And, of course, a key benefit is that the “children” of the company founders have grown up with the business and bring established familiarity and expertise in the self-adhesive label market – and creative label print. But that cannot be the whole story. 

Opening the door
To maintain the vibrancy of our industry, our doors must remain open to everything new – including young incomers in search of a career opportunity. Our challenge is to make such career opportunities an attractive proposition. In this era of social media, instant and all-embracing information, and global person-to-person contact, how can we attract young talent to the down-to-earth world of labels?  

After all, in the “connected” environment of today, labels are more than a two-dimensional printed self-adhesive substrate. While presently charged already with including a host of regulatory, instructional information and authentication data, as well as primary branding, they are now often required to build yet another bridge to the wider world in the clouds via devices and smart systems like QR codes, augmented reality, etc.

Labels have an important role to play in the Internet of Things as a key enabler of the fourth Industrial Revolution that is expected to drastically change the way we produce, consume and shape our societies and interactions over the next decade. In this world of personalization, mass customization and big data, labels go beyond the printed word or image to give identity to the world!

Labels giving identity to the world – a story to be heard!
Reflecting this new profile, FINAT is driving a campaign to raise awareness of the endless opportunities available in our industry – opportunities that can bring fulfilment in the creative, technical and management arenas. And when all is said and done, since it is the upcoming generation that will shape our industry’s future, it is for sure FINAT’s role to attract first-class talent at every level. We are therefore taking the first steps to mapping out a pathway to successful recruitment by developing a profile of labels and labeling that will define it as a highly-desirable, high-opportunity career path.

Paving the way
Kindly co-hosted by VskE, we brought together a lively group of young people from across Europe who have fairly recently joined the label community, with a number of experienced professionals, to debate the way forward in defining such a profile for our industry in all its aspects.

Our young inspirers and label world experts met in January in Berlin’s Hotel Catalonia. It’s an ideal location for encouraging out-of-the-box thinking since, in its own décor, it defies accepted hotel standards, featuring cool graffiti by leading Berlin artists, undecorated walls and a modern industrial feel. What could be better for brainstorming on the central issues around creating a positive portrait of the world of labels – an advertising image, if you like – to help us define target audiences, appropriate messaging, and the right choice of media for such a promotional campaign?

Painting the picture
Our industry profile must establish us as not only creative and challenging, but also technically advanced at all levels and, perhaps most importantly, a star player in the theatre of product packaging –  our key market for the future, and one that won’t go away. Our Berlin team meeting was great, and represented a real stepping stone to a formal agenda for action – and defining, protecting and advancing the future world of labels.  

Watch this space!

About the author: Jules Lejeune is the managing director of FINAT, an international organization promoting the self-adhesive labeling industry.

Related Markets:

  • Dscoop Post-Show Report

    Dscoop Post-Show Report

    Greg Hrinya, Associate Editor||April 7, 2017
    “Imagine” was the theme for the annual gathering of users of HP Indigo digital print technology.

  • Materials Handling

    Materials Handling

    Steve Katz, Editor||April 7, 2017
    Working without these products may cause employee injury, damaged goods and lost revenue.

  • Adhesives Update

    Adhesives Update

    Greg Hrinya, Associate Editor||April 7, 2017
    Label adhesives must meet a variety of performance and manufacturing requirements.