With the recent close of a chock-a-block and outstanding Labelexpo Europe, label print and coating were high on the agenda of attendees and exhibitors. With the upcoming IPEX show print is understandably at the forefront of many converters’ minds. After all, it is essentially the engine that drives the brand message into consumers’ hearts and minds. A simple box – be it corrugated or carton – that looks a bit weathered will not cause much consternation for most, as it looks the part it is playing , a no-nonsense shipping solution that protects goods in transit. However, an ink-smudged label, a bar code that does not scan or a QR code that does not read on a smartphone will immediately cause customers to steer clear – they don’t trust the product, even if there is nothing wrong with the product inside. It is thought of as ‘damaged’.
Generally speaking, labels and print tell us what’s inside, where a good comes from, how to use it and many more helpful tips and pieces of information. Add in a code or the use of a smart phone or reader, and there are multiple methods to educate consumers, using mixed media or reality to help out forward the message more effectively. This ‘education’ goes hand in hand with the need to engage. This can be holding the interest of consumers, or – more literally – physical engagement with the product. Multilayered film and foil products, for example, engage consumers with their materials and layers, ensuring to ensure that the total barrier delivers a number of required outcomes including customer interest, product protection and brand representation.
Enforce is where we start to see the benefits of track and trace, anti-counterfeiting and other protection measures that ensure the product ‘knows’ where it is supposed to be, and tells the customer and, if need be, can alert authorities when something is wrong. Self-enforcement might seem like a very science-fiction concept, but it is not far from what technology today can achieve. It can also be used to help secure a message or adherence to proper use in the case of cosmetics or pharmaceuticals where a certain regime or timed approach must be taken to ensure best results.
These three points are made repeatedly throughout the key features and events previews and reviews of this edition, and for good reason; they are the fundamental drivers that support the converting industry, and their impact can best be felt across coating and laminating, film and foils, labels and labelling, and print.