• Any label can be enhanced with personalization or a QR code that directs people to a landing page, and this is exactly why the demand for digital print technology is increasing.
  • Printed labels can be incredibly versatile and will have different functions in various industries.
  • Keypoint Intelligence organizes digital label presses into five categories, and the volume for each continues to grow.

By Karen Kimerer


The print label industry is undergoing a significant transformation in today's dynamic business landscape. The advent of digital press technology has created new avenues for label production, delivering numerous advantages over traditional printing methods. With shorter lead times, lower quantities per order, and a growing demand for competitive prices, digital press technology is swiftly gaining popularity.

The vibrant print label market continues to evolve, bringing together manufacturers, designers, suppliers, and end consumers. Even so, there are critical considerations that must be addressed to make a successful transition to digital. Businesses that are seeking to enter the digital print label industry must first understand the dynamics of the market. This article explores the print label market and offers strategies for successful participation.

A Diverse and Growing Industry

The demand for high-quality custom labels is growing across various industries, so this is a great time for print service providers (PSPs) to get involved. The products we use every day feature all kinds of labels, and the information provided on these labels is vital to either the consumer or the provider of the product.

The purpose of a label is to enable consumers and sellers to quickly obtain critical information. For consumers, labels offer essential details about a product (e.g., ingredients, nutritional facts, instructions for use, safety precautions, storage recommendations). Brands and manufacturers depend on labels to display barcodes and tracking numbers, along with product identifiers, to enable efficient tracking and monitoring of products so businesses can optimize their operations.

Any of these labels can be enhanced with personalization or a unique QR code that directs people to a landing page rich with information about the product it's associated with. This is exactly why the demand for digital print technology is increasing. Today's consumers want a wide variety of products, all enriched with the information they need to make the best buying decisions. This forces brands to maintain smaller inventories so they can avoid distributing out-of-date or obsolete products and labels. Additional drivers include the need to stay current with ever-changing legal and regulatory content.

Although many are similar in nature, printed labels can be incredibly versatile and have different functions in various industries. Here are just a few examples:

  • The food and beverage industry uses labels for branding, nutritional facts, and product barcodes.
  • In the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, labels provide vital information about dosage instructions, warnings, and batch numbers.
  • Retail stores rely on labels for branding, pricing, and product identification across a wide range of consumer goods.
  • In logistics and transportation, labels with shipping addresses and tracking numbers streamline supply chain management.
  • The chemical and manufacturing industry uses labels to communicate safety information and regulatory compliance details.
  • The automotive and aerospace sectors employ labels for product identification, safety warnings, and compliance.
  • The electronics and technology industry relies on labels for branding, specifications, and regulatory compliance.
  • Cosmetics and personal care products use labels for branding, ingredients, and safety warnings.
  • In the agricultural and horticultural industry, labels provide information about product origin, certifications, and handling instructions.
  • In the promotional industry, labels are crucial for creating brand awareness, advertising events, and enhancing marketing campaigns.

These examples demonstrate the widespread and diverse use of printed labels across various sectors. Once they understand a label’s function, savvy PSPs can discuss the digital value proposition—shorter run lengths, customization, personalization, and speed to market can be vital to the provider or consumer.

Making the Transition

Transitioning to digital print label production means having the right technology and infrastructure. A successful transition starts with knowing what your customers need and understanding what kinds of labels they use. Armed with this information, you can navigate the available technologies to find the perfect fit for your business.

Keypoint Intelligence organizes digital label presses into five categories. As shown in the chart below, the volume for each category continues to grow. Across the board, volumes of labels printed on a digital press can anticipate a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 12%.

Table 1: Global Digital Label Press Volumes (In Millions of m2)



CAGR (2022–2027)

High-Volume Production Systems: Toner-Based



High-Volume Production Systems: Inkjet-Based



Hybrid Systems



Mid-Level Systems



Low-End Inkjet Web



Grand Total



Source: Narrow Web Labels Forecast; Keypoint Intelligence 2023

Press selection will undoubtedly drive the type of labels you offer, but don’t forget about the bigger picture! Your infrastructure can make or break your success, so leave room in your planning to streamline your processes and maximize productivity. Remember that transferring volumes from traditional label presses to digital must provide an inherent advantage. Workflow bottlenecks and slow production times can hinder success.

The Bottom Line

The print label industry is undergoing a considerable transformation thanks to the adoption of digital press technology. PSPs have many opportunities to participate in and capitalize on the growth within this market. The demand for high-quality custom labels is on the rise across various industries, driven by the need for differentiation, better information, and efficient supply chain management. Understanding the market dynamics and trends is crucial for businesses that are seeking to enter the digital print label industry and position themselves for success.

As part of the Business Development Strategies Consulting Service at Keypoint Intelligence, Karen Kimerer has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry.