EskoWorld 2018 marked a banner event for Esko, as it established new marks for attendance. According to Chris Miller, vice president of North American sales, EskoWorld welcomed 505 guests, including 195 new attendees. The jump in new registration represented a 39% increase.
Esko also brought 126 associates, including six advisory board members, to San Antonio to help users learn the ins and outs of the company’s software enhancements. The hands-on roadmaps illustrated how to take advantage of suites like WebCenter, Automation Engine, Studio, Store Visualizer, ArtiosCAD, and more. Esko noted that Automation Engine produces 579 worldwide workflows in a minute.
“If you love packaging and you love technology, EskoWorld is your home,” said Miller. “We’re providing solutions you need to serve your customers in the market place.”
In welcoming attendees, Esko president Udo Panenka explored the changing role of packaging and consumer behavior, and how Esko’s solutions will help ease the transition. According to Panenka, 79% of all consumers anticipate the packaging they see online – from outlets like Amazon – to be the same as they appear in the store. In an ever-changing world, consumers expect a great, engaging consumer experience, more and better information from their labels and packaging, and full consistency between online and offline channels.
There are opportunities for label converters and printers, as Panenka added that the average length of a label change takes 198 days. Other issues that need to be overcome include long approval cycles, inefficient manual processes, many checkpoints, and poor uptime of expensive hardware.
The rise of digital printing has also led to 15% more jobs for label converters, as well as shorter lead times. Timeliness is critical. Panenka cited the upcoming World Cup as an example. “No one wants a product nine months after the World Cup is over,” Panenka said. “Brands need to respond much faster to trends. If you look at 198 days for a label change, think about all the things we can do if we change the response time.”
Labels and packaging are changing at a faster rate, too. In 2015, 60,000 new SKUs were produced and only 55% survived the first 26 weeks. That means 45% of new SKUs will not survive half a year. Therefore, ability to adapt and create new, eye-popping designs–while getting them to market quickly–are critical. Esko’s Paul Land added that 62% of all consumer packaging gets refreshed every year.
Big consumer packaging companies (CPGs) have also experienced stagnant growth, with many smaller CPGs gaining market share. “The smaller CPG brands are actually growing faster, and part of the reason is big CPGs are lacking digitization,” Panenka said.
Consumer engagement is as important as ever, with many digital campaigns capitalizing on this trend. Esko referenced “Share a Coke” and Nutella campaigns, which have leveraged digital to create a 1-to-1 experience with the consumer.
“Brands need to get closer to the consumers and fulfill their expectations,” Panenka said. “We need more and better information to simplify this whole process. If you do that, you’re at Packaging Connected as a central point. And you’re removing distances between the consumer and the converters and the brands.”
Esko is striving to normalize several tasks, including digitizing more tasks and working more with 3D illustrations and mockups. Asset portability and the ability to visualize the entire store–complete with how products will look on the shelf–will streamline the process and get better products to market in a quicker fashion.
EskoWorld highlighted multiple new product enhancements. For example, WebCenter 18 features extended 3D functionality and better KPI reporting, which were discussed at length in multiple roadmap sessions. Esko Studio’s labeling tools received a major upgrade, allowing users to annotate and compare in 3D. ArtiosCAD is connecting multiple departments and locations, as well as converters with suppliers, to simplify the process. In addition, MediaBeacon has received highest score for a current DAM offering in the world.
“Packaging Connected: The Event,” a deep dive into the full packaging process, from ideation to production, highlighted the first day of EskoWorld. Following the ideation phase, Esko detailed specification, where colors and content are established, and design, where packaging types, variants and social media banners are outlined. Colors can be effectively managed in WebCenter, especially with Esko’s partnership with X-Rite Pantone. By digitizing color with a spectrophotometer, it is easier to rationalize and visualize colors to make sure they translate across multiple mediums.
Subsequently, artwork must be created, complete with approval and 3D virtual packaging shots. Finally, the product must be produced on a printing press, followed by the creation of e-commerce and online assets.
Esko also showcased how its software can streamline specific applications like the new proposed FDA label change. With a connected ecosystem, the goal is to incorporate a change in days and weeks, as opposed to 198 days.
“Let’s bring the label change down to five days,” Panenka concluded. “There’s no reason why this is not possible. Let’s be a driver of the changes. That is what Packaging Connected is all about.”
He added that the Packaging Connected theme was so relevant that it could serve as the mantra for the next five EskoWorlds.
At the conclusion of the event, Esko announced that EskoWorld 2019 would head to Nashville, TN.