Is the Digital Label Market Growing and Why?
Last week Packaging News sent out this message,
By Howie Fenton
Published: December 17, 2010
Last week Packaging News sent out this message, “Voting is underway in this month’s reader poll – on digital printing for packaging. Following a series of investments by converters in digital printing equipment, we’re asking whether 2011 will be the breakthrough year for digitally-printed packaging.” This announcement as well as others by manufacturers like Xeikon, HP and Xerox suggests that the label market from digital presses is growing. The question is: is the digital label market growing and are digital labels an emerging opportunity?
The concept of digital labels is strange because the dominant label printing technology is flexography or flexo. Market research shows that 65 percent of printing for the packaging marketplace is done using flexo technology and 21 percent using offset, leaving 14% spread across screen, gravure, letterpress and digital presses. The latest report from Infotrends (Color Digital Printing in Packaging and Prime Labels: A Multi-Client Report, 2010) says that the 2009 market is about $1.8 billion with 90% from labels and 5% from folding carton and 5% flexible packaging. They also say that the market will grow to $3.8 billion by 2014.
Who are the leading players? At the Labelexpo Americas trade show in September HP said that its installed base for HP Indigo digital presses for the label and packaging converting industry has reached 1,000 presses (worldwide). Since most people calculate that the installed base is between 1,200-1,500 installed digital label presses, clearly HP is the dominant player. But the two digital press companies that start with the letter X, Xerox and Xeikon, are working to make inroads into the digital label market.
According to Xeikon:
Digital labels – can play a crucial role in increasing sales volumes. They are the ultimate and flexible tool to turn packaging into an attractive attention-getter that differentiates your manufactured goods. A short time-to-market and a targeted audience approach will add to your success, but requires short to medium runs. With Just-In-Time production and delivery you can evolve from printing labels to delivering a complete service that permits producers to reduce or eliminate inventories. It offers them the freedom to act and react more quickly to the changes in the market without economical impact.
Why is digital printing gaining momentum for label applications? I believe it is for shorter runs and growth of private labels. A shorter run in labels is typically defined as less than 10,000 labels. But the growth in private labels is controversial. Supporting this point is an article in Packaging Digest:
“A solid majority of retailers and manufacturers believe there’s more market share growth ahead for store brands even after the economy improves, according to a poll from the Deloitte consulting company.
A survey of top-level executives revealed 77% of CPG executives and 90% of retail executives believe private label sales will increase or even increase significantly in the U.S. by 2012. The findings are part of Deloitte's “The Battle for Brands in a World of Private Labels” study.
Deloitte sees “mounting evidence” that “national brands are losing their hold on the consumer. As a result, consumers are more willing to try new and different brands and believe they have more convenient access to a wider array of product choices.”
But an article in PerishableNews.com recently said that at the recent PLMA conference in Chicago presentations were made announcing that “after growing strongly in 2008 and 2009, sales of private label foods are flat in 2010 as brands counterattacked and increased trade and consumer promotion.”
Are digital labels on your radar screen? Do you think that it is a growing market?