If you’re a product marketer, packaging developer or brand manager, chances are that you’ve heard about digital print. But how much do you really know about it? As a relatively new technology, digital print is only just beginning to infiltrate the packaging market and demonstrate its true potential for seamless and personalised advertising, both on and offline.

Robert Monaghan, Director of Air Innovation, discusses how digital print is evolving: ‘recently, the FMCG industry went through a phase where only the small start-ups were delivering exciting new products to the supermarkets. This gave the big companies a wake-up call – no-one more than the Coca-Cola Company’.

Monaghan refers to Coca-Cola’s recent global ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, which serves as the perfect success story to demonstrate the potential of digital printing for businesses. Originating in Australia and hitting Britain this summer, the campaign involved 375ml and 500ml PET bottles of Coke which featured 250 of the most common first names from around the world in multiple different languages. This allowed customers to ‘share a coke’ with their friends, families and loved ones. The campaign was a huge success, seeing both sales and social media engagement with the brand increase. ‘What they’ve achieved with their recent Share a Coke campaign is breath-taking.’  Monaghan agrees. Without digital print, the project, which spanned 35 European countries and 750 million packs, would not have been possible.

The campaign demonstrated the efficacy of digital printing in increasing consumer interaction with a brand, through personalisation of packaging and easy integration with online marketing campaigns. And ‘Share a Coke’ is just the tip of the iceberg. Digital print is opening up a whole world of creativity in packaging design and digital marketing strategy, and not just for big name brands like Coca-Cola. According to Ron Romanik, Contributing Editor of Packaging World, digital printing allows for specialized and frequently updated labels, so is therefore becoming essential for the new influx of niche craft beer and wine companies seeking shorter changeover times and reduced material waste.

The potential of digital print reaches way beyond the label.  Personalised digitally printed flyers and brochures have been driving up ROI for years now, using content which can also be incorporated into online and mobile media as pioneered by marketing teams such as the one at BSkyB. This kind of personalisation ensures relevant messages are delivered to targeted groups of your customers. According to Forbes.com, 61% of US consumers feel more positive about a brand when marketing messages are personalised. Following Sky’s lead, you could be producing completely bespoke and targeted packaging in the not so distant future.

However, this technology is in its relatively early stages and there is a general lack of coverage and awareness about it in the industry. Monaghan agrees, stating: ‘I’m […] surprised at how little press coverage and case studies about Digital Printing there are in circulation’. For this reason, there still exists a general consensus that digital printing is expensive and difficult to manage, especially for smaller companies. Monaghan recognises this perception, stating: ‘this […] dovetails with another question – should we really invest in NPD (new product development) as it’s often costly, risky, and takes years to deliver any ROI, if ever?’ He goes on, however, to pose an equally challenging question which reflects the growing popularity and competitive nature of digital print: ‘the answer is similar – can you afford not to?’

The fact is, digital printing is becoming increasingly cost-effective and offers the same standard of quality as more traditional printing methods. Companies of all shapes and sizes are beginning to recognise its potential, and those who don’t get on board are likely to get left behind.

Luckily, you can get in on the act and hear from the range of companies leading the way in digital print at Digital Print for Packaging 2013, held in London on the 2-4 December. Whether you’re considering digital print for your business or would just like to know a little more about it, this event will provide you with answers to all of your questions.

Monaghan, who is acting as Co-Chair at this year’s conference is keen to stress its importance and relevancy: ‘it’s guaranteed to be a conference that delivers a valuable learning experience for delegates, while also inspiring attendees about how digitally printed packaging can form part of really innovative product marketing.’

Don’t miss out and book your place at Digital Print for Packaging now! Visit www.printfutures.com