“It” Enlabelled Packaging

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we have the India Label Show at New Delhi
In the first week of December, we have the India Label Show at New Delhi, in which we will be participating as media partners. We will be at Stand No. H-41, so do come and look us up.

The label business is going through an exciting evolution and period of growth, especially in South Asia. The use of labels is exploding for various reasons, not the least of which is the demand for extremely high quality of graphics involving multi-colour process work and eye-catching designs on packages that need to reach out and grab eyeballs amidst a clutter of brands on a supermarket shelf. Pack designs need real oomph and an element of “it” to stand out and connect with consumers.

To an extent, this is due to technological reasons. With more and more package systems going the way of plastic containers, whether rigid, semi-rigid or flexible, the need for quality printed labels is rising. While flexible materials pose no limitations on print reproduction and graphic quality, rigid and semi-rigid containers have severe constraints on their ability to be printed on directly and at reasonable rates of output, except for tinplate cans that are constructed from lithographed flat sheets. So what is the way out? The solution is to use a label for decoration since the label can be printed on a flat flexible substrate with really high-quality print reproduction processes like rotogravure, lithograpy, flexography or digital printing so as to obtain even the most difficult tonal effects. It’s then a relatively simple matter of affixing the label to the container no matter how undulating it’s surface or how complex it’s shape may be. With today’s preference for contoured containers that pose no design limitations and for on-the-go packages that can be held, opened and consumed with one hand, these trends only heighten the need for quality labels.

Labels have, in fact, gone beyond being just basic decorative elements and technologies like shrink sleeve labelling, the no-label look, in-mould labelling and holographic and lenticular effects have elevated decoration quality to a different plane altogether. The demands of micro-segmentation and small runs of high print quality or with variable data at short call, which were hitherto serious hurdles can now easily and cost-effectively met by labels. Then, again, the label has also become the primary medium for brand security and/or tracking and tracing throughout the supply chain. One can further expect to see spectacular innovations once smart labels start fulfilling their potential. On the other hand, there is also the growing need for sustainable packaging that is partly or wholly recyclable.

All in all, we can expect to see quantum changes in labelling techniques and a quite dramatic upgradation in the technologies involved in the production, application and tracking of labels in the short to medium term, especially in the developing economies. We can really look forward to seeing some exponential growth in the label industry, both organic and technological. Are we going to enlabel packaging to reach Olympian heights? I certainly think so. — Editor