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Business Opportunities

Packaging Profits

As Autumn kicks off the long run-up to the Christmas season, Harriet Gordon considers the packaging sector, and the opportunities it presents to printers looking to diversify

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Packaging is at the forefront of the print industry around Christmas time, with gift packaging and wrapping paper just some of the applications possible

Part and parcel

As the old saying goes, you should never judge a book by its cover. Do not jump to quick conclusions based on surface appearances, without considering the qualities that may lie within. While this is certainly excellent advice for many aspects of life, the old mantra falls down when it comes to the modern-day retail market. Often, in a shop, the outside image of a product, its packaging, is all the consumer has to go on. So, without a doubt, the importance of packaging for grabbing the initial attention of buyers cannot be overlooked.
Lately, however, research has been conducted that suggests the packaging of a product does more than just attract consumers to the shelves, but actually changes their perception of the product itself. Even after it has been removed, and the qualities of the product have been judged for themselves, the packaging still has an effect on the responses and reactions of consumers.

O Factoid: In the survey conducted by Packaging Innovations London, perfume was thought to smell 60 percent nicer when it was packaged in a higher quality box. O

It is unsurprising, then, that companies are placing more value on the outside casing of their products than ever. With the importance of packaging becoming better understood, it may be an excellent time for print-service-providers to make a move into this lucrative sector.

Ask the experts

This research was commissioned by Packaging Innovations London, and found that otherwise identical products were rated 35 percent better overall, simply due to the packaging they were associated with. Perhaps even more interesting, is that the packaging appeared to affect all the senses of a consumer. For instance, perfume was thought to smell 60 percent nicer when it was packaged in a higher quality box. Similarly, wine tasted 53 percent better, according to the participants, when the case looked more elegant. Consumers even declared a t-shirt felt 10 percent more superior, simply if it came in a higher quality pack. The impact of the packaging over senses was so high that people were prepared to pay, on average, nearly three times the price for identical products.

Research recently conducted by Packaging Innovations London suggests that wine tasted 53 percent better when served in higher-quality packaging

James Drake-Brockman, divisional director of the Easyfairs Packaging Portfolio, comments: “Whilst we expected to see the perceived cost of items increase when people thought it came in higher-end packaging, what we didn’t expect to see was how the packaging actually appeared to affect the senses. Identical biscuits, wine, and chocolates seemed to taste better, and people even liked the smell of a perfume more, if they thought it came in a more premium pack.”

As part of the research, people were also asked about their attitudes to packaging. 73 percent said it is a major factor in deciding which product they go for. Indeed, packaging is so important as a visual determinant of quality that when buying a gift 59 percent said that, even if they knew the product was inferior, they would be more likely to buy a lower quality item in better looking packaging, than the other way around.

Packaging Innovations London’s research found that otherwise identical products were rated 35 percent better overall due to the packaging they were associated with

Drake-Brockman continues: “The study highlights how packaging is a crucial marker for people. It signposts to people exactly the value they should place on things. That’s why brands operating at both the premium and lower-end think incredibly tactically about their packaging—taking care to ensure it says the right things about their products. However, for brands operating in the middle, the signs are clear: commanding a higher price, or making it taste, look or feel better, may be less about modifying your product and more about taking a fresh look at your packaging.”

Take a peek

So does this renewed focus on the importance of the outside covering of a product indicate an opportunity for printers considering diversifying into the packaging sector? Steve Giddins, partner at Perfect Bindery Solutions, thinks it does: “It’s becoming easier than ever to enter the packaging market. On-demand and short-run packaging requirements are increasing, together with personalisation opportunities.
“The development of small, reasonably-priced machines enables the printer to efficiently make a range of high-quality boxes, and eliminate some of the slow manual operations in stages, to suit production and skills as needed.”

In 2015, Perfect Bindery Solutions secured the exclusive agency to represent IML machinery in the UK and Ireland. The Italian manufacturer was embarking on a new venture to create solutions for niche applications in the packaging and bindery markets, and chose Giddins as a key partner in this effort.

IML international marketing director, Carlo Bianchi, explains: “We saw the potential not only for Perfect Bindery Solutions to supply IML products, but to help us develop a new range of print finishing technology for our bookbinding and packaging divisions. This collaboration resulted in the creation of a new division called IML Machinery to specifically develop new technology.

(L to R) Carlo Bianchi and Marco Dalusio of IML, with Steve Giddins of Perfect Bindery Solutions. This team will see the fruit of their labours realised at The Print Show 2017

“Our first project together was the development of box making technology to automate the manufacture of luxury boxes through creating a series of machines for taping corners, box wrapping, grooving boards, and case making.”

As someone who has not long made a successful move into the packaging market, Giddins is perfectly placed to advise those considering the same thing. He comments: “Since most short-run box making seems to be mainly produced manually there is plenty of growth potential. Many companies are shipping large quantities from the Far East which is expensive and quite often the wrong product size or colour required by the customer. In-house production enables faster turnaround and low storage costs as they can be made on-demand.

“The idea of being in control of production is a very attractive proposition in this growing market. We at Perfect Bindery Solutions can advise on the range of mechanical processes possible to demonstrate the efficiency and return-on-investment possibilities, taking into account machinery already on site and the type of production required.”

See for yourself

If the packaging sector has been on your radar for a while, you may well have attended the recent Packaging Innovations and Luxury Packaging events in London. With over 180 exhibitors spanning the entire length of the supply chain, the shows were yet another example of the health and potential of this sector.

What is more, over 60 percent of these exhibitors used the show to launch new technologies, solutions or services. This includes such innovations as Impact Emotion’s custom-made metallic cages for perfume bottles, Label Apeel’s fluorescent pink ink that glows under UV light, Gruppo Cordenons’s Reef, a fine paper that evokes fine sands, live rock, corals, and colourful fish scales.

Drake-Brockman comments on the event: “It is great that so many of our exhibitors mark Packaging Innovations London in their diaries as the best time to launch new products and services to the UK market. With our show floor packed with senior decision makers and buyers, and so much innovation on show, it really was an exciting place to be.”

Yet if you missed this opportunity for inspiration, never fear. The upcoming Print Show will have many innovations on display, including new releases from IML and Perfect Bindery Solutions.

IML’s Bianchi explains: “The next big revelation we will have at The Print Show 2017 in October will be the launch of a revolutionary perfect binder that can cater for end-papering, backlining, and cover feeding on a book in-line to a three-knife trimmer. Key strengths of the IML offering are our user-friendly software, the very robust and heavy-duty build quality of our machines, and the technical support we offer our customers, which is now backed up by the expertise of Perfect Bindery Solutions in the UK.”

IML’s Bianchi says that the next big revelation will take place at The Print Show 2017: the launch of a ‘revolutionary’ perfect binder. Pictured: The International Centre where The Print Show is being held

Support of this kind can undoubtedly be invaluable when entering a new market; Giddins from PBS offers a few cautionary words to printers about to make the move into packaging: “There are one of two pitfalls you need to watch out for. PSPs should consider the types of materials being requested with their respective grain directions, together with the adhesives that should be used to ensure quality and efficiency. To produce high-quality products does not necessarily need high skill levels; however good material preparation is essential.”

The IML DA900  is  a compact electropneumatic box wrapping system

Giddins is, however, confident about the future of the packaging sector, and about the opportunities it presents for commercial printers.

PBS’ Giddins says it is becoming easier than ever to enter the packaging market, as new affordable machines have eliminated some of the slow manual operations. Pictured: the IML DA902

He continues: “Growth related to digital printing possibilities is developing, especially for personalisation. We have positioned ourselves to support the small-to-medium run market, with affordable, easy-to-use technology developed by our Italian supplier IML over the last two years.

Innovation continues to develop, not only with the machinery, but with the range of products that the machines can produce

“Innovation continues to develop, not only with the machinery, but with the range of products that the machines can produce. Digital print, personalisation and new substrates make this developing market particularly exciting, and we are very pleased to be part of it.”

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