The Digital Print for Packaging conference was recently held at the Cumberland Hotel in London, UK. The event was co-located alongside the Print Summit. Over 150 delegates attended from 86 companies and 18 countries.
Organized by market research firm Smithers Pira, the varied program got to the heart of the debate about how and when digital print will be fully embraced by the consumer products, pharmaceutical and food and beverage sectors.
According to Program Director Rachel Montgomery, a highlight of the event was the numerous and varied case studies presented. “The conference started with a ‘tsunami’ of case examples of innovative uses of digital print and personalization from Robert Monaghan of Air Innovation, and the pace didn’t slow down until the close of the conference, over 30 presentations later! A great deal of interaction took place over the two days, including some very interesting discussion.”
The event’s attendees were a mix of brand owners, converters and print technology providers, as well as material, retailers, consultants and designers.
Montgomery highlights some of the conference’s key takeaways:
- Future opportunities will be created from how the technology is used by marketers, not simply by the technology itself. The internet is to digital print technology, as Skype/YouTube/Twitter is to the (as yet undeveloped) digital tools brands will use in the future to connect with consumers via packaging.
- With one of the main benefits from digitally printed packaging being brand engagement, funding for personalized, innovative packaging could be driven by brand marketing teams, rather than the packaging department itself.
- Digital print is not a replacement for traditional print technologies (yet), so converters need to consider how to use the right technology for the right job to maximize productivities across all of a converter’s production capacity. Versatility is the name of the game.
- There are unexplored opportunities in pack serialization enabled by digital print, not only in food and beverage, but in other applications too such as pharma, track & trace, etc.
- There are significant parallels between adoption of digital print for packaging now, and the introduction of digital into other commercial print applications. For example, in wide format advertising in the 90s, having initially bought wide format digital presses to provide proofs, design mock-ups or deal with short-run difficult jobs, printers found digital soon became the most profitable part of their business, and also resulted in capture of more business for their analog presses. Brands and retailers view the quality of digital print as high, higher in some cases, than other printing technologies.
- Pack personalization is just the beginning. The full benefits of digital print for packaging are yet to be realized.