Label advances connect to consumer aspirations

Pivoting and trust score over value

With the Conduent Augmented Reality feature accessed within a pharmacy’s free app, patients can access information about a prescription by simply scanning the prescription label to view videos about how to take the medicine, to contact the pharmacy with questions, to place a refill over text, to engage with a virtual assistant that can answer questions and more. Photo - Conduent

In the current pandemic scenario, there are challenges and opportunities for brand owners and converters, and advancements in label printing technologies, finishing systems, and label innovations can be the key to success. Keeping this in mind, Packplus organized a webinar titled ‘Labels – Connecting Consumer Aspirations’ on 24 July 2020.

Changes in consumer preferences

Changes in consumer behavior are shaping the way packaging and labeling is evolving today. Reetika Prashar of Procter & Gamble health gave live examples of companies that grabbed the chance to convert the crisis into opportunities. She gave examples of Bajaj Consumer Products, which launched a sanitizer using its existing product lines and Amul tapping the opportunity of hygienic prasad at temples by launching Panch Amrit.

She observed the shift in consumer decision-making from value-led to trust-led decisions and a change in consumer behavior from offline to online. An instance of accidental removal of barcoding on a pack by the sanitizer on her hands, compelled her to remind the audience of the need to focus more on the label’s functional aspects.

Emerging technologies

During this pandemic, one of the biggest challenges is building the right level of trust with the consumer. Packaging being the first real interaction of the product with the consumer, it can translate product attributes and the brand value.

According to Gagan Deep of the Himalaya Drug Company, the biggest challenge for packaging professionals is to bring all elements into the packaging design — communicate the brand proposition properly, brand benefits, communicate with purpose, and sustainability credentials that the brand is pursuing.

“Many brands exploit technologies like augmented reality to better communicate with the consumer through the label,” he explained. “With the help of digital printing, we can now print labels specific to the customer and build brand loyalty by showing that we care for the consumer.”

Challenges or opportunities

Amit Saurkar of MTR Foods said that in Covid times, the product experience is missing while there is a change in the procurement and order styles. “The consumer focus is on hygiene and no-touch shopping. In the coming days, we will see bulk purchases of staples and fewer store visits,” he suggested.

According to him, we need to learn, unlearn, and relearn the conventional ways of working at this time. Seeing personalization taking center stage for brand loyalty, he said, “Many brands are opting for QSR chains to penetrate deeper into the market with more new product trials.”

Label design for label life cycle

Jikul Purohit of Unilever spoke of the sustainability initiatives taken by the company while designing a label. There is a need to focus on the recycling behavior of the materials used for packaging or labeling. “When I design my label, I take care of four important R’s – Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, and Responsibly sourced.” Purohit presented a case study on love, beauty, and the planet – Unilever’s personal care brand.

Digital printing improves aesthetic appeal and enhances consumer engagement. Umesh Kagade of HP India expressed his thoughts on consumer engagement and sustainability. According to him, from a consumer engagement perspective, personalization can take off. “Although sustainability has taken a back seat, for now, digital printing plays a big role in sustainability as it helps to save a lot by printing what is really required.”

Trust is ahead of value

“For a consumer, trust is ahead of value,” stated Ranesh Bajaj of Vinsak India. As we move away from the store shelves to the eCommerce sites, functionality is gaining more importance over aesthetics. “There is a need to design a functionally effective and sustainable packaging, as sustainability will be there for many generations to come.” He said there is a need to make consumers aware of recyclability. Incentivization initiatives can motivate consumers to contribute to recycling streams proactively.

Puneet Duggal of Kap Group stated that the Coronavirus had increased the demand for packaging. “The customer wants the packaging to be tamper-evident, as it gives him the satisfaction that the pack has been packed in the factory and has not been tampered on the way.”

Denver Annunciation of Janus International highlighted the need to pivot fast with 1/10 of the workforce and deliver on time. He said that when end-of-line inkjet nozzles dried up and jammed in the lockdown, the unique capability digital printing allowed him to incorporate the end-of-line statutory variable information in the printed labels themselves. Digital printing of labels with less workforce and increased flexibility and security has been vital to keeping the supply chain of food, pharma, and other products running during the evolving return to the new normal.

Key takeaways

Label design plays a critical role in exploiting the believability factor and bring in the consumer confidence factor. There is a need to focus more on the functional aspect of the package. Traceability and authenticity are coming into the picture as the customer today wants to explore more about the product and to connect with the brand directly. Trust scores ahead of value.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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