Global market update from Alexander Watson Associates

Label industry continues to grow


According to Alexander Watson Associates’ (AWA) researches, pressure-sensitive labelling continues to represent a 40% share of the global labelling technologies market, while the old-established glue applied technology claims second place, with a 35% market share, and the sleeve labelling technologies now represent a solid 19% share – and are still growing. AWA’s 2019 Labelling and Product Decoration Annual Review draws a detailed portrait of a market which, like all aspects of the packaging industry, is changing.

Current market status

In 2018, AWA estimated that worldwide demand for all label types approximated to 64,245 million square meters – a healthy growth of 4.4% over 2017 volumes, in line with global GDP. The largest regional market continues to be Asia, with a 44% market share, and the leading growth drivers around the world include China, India, South-East Asia, and the eastern European countries.

Major growth contributors

VIP labels are a major contributory force, reflecting the increased activity in eCommerce and transportation and logistics. This is particularly true for pressure-sensitive labels, which command the majority share of VIP labelling.

Sleeve labels – particularly heat-shrink sleeves – continue to provide the main source of competition to pressure-sensitive and glue-applied labels in the food and beverage market segments, and also to the in-mold labelling formats in household chemicals.

Major competitors

All the label formats are now competing with direct-to-package print, in terms of flexible packaging in particular, which is growing strongly in both the developed and emerging markets. An additional competitor is direct digital print to plastic, glass, and metal containers, which offers added brand-owner feature option in terms of limited editioning and personalization. The current focus on sustainability is also favoring renewed growth in printed carton board packaging. These alternative technologies are all benefiting from growth rates higher than those for traditional labelling.

Overall view

The changing market profile, along with raw material pricing , mergers and acquisition activities in the industry, choice of labelling substrate, and perceptions of the market’s future directions are at the heart of this 13th AWA Global Labelling & Product Decoration Market Update 2019. Featuring enhanced data on primary product labelling, end-user markets both globally and regionally, and label market growth trends, the report complements the company’s in-depth studies that closely monitor the behavior of individual geographical markets, labelling technologies and end-use markets for labels and product decoration. Full details are available on the website, The report may also be ordered online.