Online Exclusives

The Battle for Shelf Appeal

By Steve Katz, Editor | June 17, 2014

The 2014 FINAT Congress in Monaco provided insight on the drivers, trends and developments shaping the label and packaging industry.

Competition reigns in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Nestled at the base of the Alps along the French Riviera, the famed quarter of Monaco is known for hosting the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, where the world’s fastest cars race through the city’s streets. The area is also known for it’s high stakes casino, where wealthy gamblers come to test their luck. Along Monaco's docks, it seems that each yacht is bigger than the next, and the streets are filled with Ferraris, Maserati’s, Bentleys, and other high-priced luxury cars. It’s a competitive place, so it served as a fitting backdrop for the 2014 FINAT Congress, aptly themed “The Battle for Shelf Appeal.”

“The competition to catch the eye of the consumer is translating into a battle for the most attractive yet cost-effective product decoration solution,” explained Flint Group’s Niklas Olson, FINAT’s programming committee chair. “In this battle, we often see competition arriving from new – and maybe even disruptive – technologies. Our idea is to provide some insights into the various technologies used to decorate products that are fighting the battle. Label printers need to be aware of the trends and developments, and learn what is driving all of the possible decoration alternatives.”

The Congress’s educational program kicked off with Rik Olthof, brand strategist at Dutch branding and packaging design consultancy Cartils. Olthof gave a presentation bearing the event’s theme “The Battle for Shelf Appeal,” where he introduced to the audience the five pillars of Cartils' Brandstar, a tool to analyze the integration of branding and design. The five pillars are: Be seen, be real, be confident, be relevant, and be aspirational.

The evolution of the Beefeater brand had a brief setback with its no-look label.
When it comes to being seen, Olthof emphasized the importance of a product’s shape. “With an increasing amount of products on shelf, our brains try and make things as simple as possible,” he said. “And it’s shape that always defines a brand’s character. A brand’s goal is to claim a shape of their own,” he said, pointing out examples such as McDonalds’s French fries, Pringles chips and Absolut vodka.

Cartils specializes in branding and packaging for the beer, wine, spirits and tobacco markets, and Olthof provided some advice and insight on what works and what doesn’t within this sector. With spirits, he pointed out that a brand not only has to stand out on a store shelf, but also in a “nightlife” environment. “When you take the label and logo off of the bottle, you still want to be recognizable,” he said, citing successful examples of this with Absolut and Jack Daniels. These two brands, he added, also show ownership of a logo’s font, another critical aspect of "being seen."

Cartils’ “Be real” pillar relates to quality, and a sense of trustworthiness. Olthof said Smirnoff vodka exemplifies this pillar with it’s logo written in capital letters, a powerfull main shape, and endorsements by way of showing medals won and a signature.

With Beefeater gin, Olthof showed what a setback looks like in the evolution of the brand. When Beefeater switched to a clear film label, its logo got lost. Adding a white background remedied this.

On the ‘Radar’
Jules Lejeune, managing director for FINAT, provided Congress attendees with an update on the forces driving the European label market, as he presented the results of the first FINAT Radar, a new, wide-ranging half-yearly and professionally-conducted Industry Trends Report. The report is designed to give FINAT members a convenient, recurring overview on the evolution of markets and market segments, employment, profit and loss, purchasing and investment.

The inaugural edition of the FINAT Radar, Lejuene explained, featured data compiled from 37 countries – including 10 leading companies – and represented 92% of the label market. Some of the results Lejeune shared include Europe consuming twice as much stock since 1997, doubling its growth over a 17-year period. “Demand has become more volatile and film consumption continues to rise,” Lejeune said.

Radar findings showed that food, personal care/cosmetics and household chemicals had the highest growth rates for converters, while transport/logistics office products and retail had the lowest. The average run length was highest for beverages and household chemicals, and lowest for automotive, pharmaceutical and office products.

The Finat Radar also includes brand owner viewpoints. Notably, Lejeune reported: 18% of brand owners surveyed would like to source multiple types of packaging from a single supplier; and 24% consider it vital for label and packaging suppliers to be "environmentally certifiied" with 35% saying sustainability is becoming more important. However, only 14% of Radar survey respondents said they would be willing to pay more for green label constructions.

Driving label and package innovation with Ferrari
On the second day of the Congress, Mike Ferrari, founder and president of US-based Ferrari Innovation Solutions, gave a presentation titled “Innovation for labeling and packaging profit,” where he focused on the future of packaging, and packaging’s evolving role in the digital age.

By polling the audience, Ferrari was able to show that of the many people that bought an Apple product in the last year, the majority of these consumers kept the package. Why? “Because packaging has a purpose beyond grabbing attention on the shelf,” he said. “The whole idea of packaging today is to be relevant and interactive. Shape, color and substrate are important, but packaging needs to go beyond that.”

Mike Ferrari
Where packaging is going, Ferrari said, is to the creation of a one-on-one relationship with the consumer. “We are moving from mass production to mass customization. Why? Because we are all individuals, creating content.

“It’s time to focus on the millenials – those born with the internet,” Ferrari said. “They’re the ones making different choices, and we have to understand these choices.”

Ferrari talked about “moments of truth” with regard to the shopping experience. He said, “The zero moment is online exposure. The first moment is in the retail environment – the ‘stop and hold’ moment. The second is the consumer’s experience in using the product, and the third moment is package disposal.”

Personalization, Ferrari said, which is driven by digital printing, has the ability to prolong this third moment of truth. He pointed to Coke’s 2013 marketing campaign where bottles of Coke featured an individual’s name. “There is power in a name,” Ferrari stressed. “Would you throw a bottle away that has your name on it? People want personalization and are responding to it.”

Ferrari said that digital printing’s value journey is about changing the consumer experience, which will lead to increased profits. He also pointed out the significance of the social media boom, which, he added, will continue to drive purchasing. For an example, Ferrari said, look no further than Proctor & Gamble. “P&G’s CEO A.G. Lafley raised eyebrows on a recent earnings call, estimating the company spends up to 35% of its massive marketing budget on digital.”

Taking flight
The 2014 FINAT Congress concluded with a presentation from balloonist Bertrand Piccard, the first person to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe.

With all of the preceding talk about embracing change and new technologies, this final presentation was designed to inspire Congress attendees as they left Monaco and went back to their label shops armed with new ideas.

Piccard told the audience, “We are prisoners of the way we think, but we have no limits to how we think – this is freedom. Like ballooning, we should be able to change our altitudes in the winds of our work and life.”

In 2015, the FINAT Congress takes place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, June 11-13.