• The ultimate purpose of any summit is to gather great minds so they can exchange information and tackle the many issues within today’s market, and the 2019 Digital Packaging Summit was no exception.
  • Collaboration may seem counterintuitive to some and a bit risky to others, but it is more important now than it has ever been before.
  • Brand owners are passionate about their products, but they need the help of service providers to understand the possibilities available to them with digital print. 

By Karen Kimerer


One of the biggest challenges in our industry is keeping up with customers’ changing needs. Fortunately, events like the 2019 Digital Packaging Summit (November 11–13) make keeping a finger on the pulse of the industry a little easier. This exclusive invitation-only event (held at the beautiful Ponte Vedra resort in Jacksonville, Fla.) was sponsored by many of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that play a vital role in the growth of digitally printed packaging applications. Industry leaders supporting folding cartons, corrugated packaging, labels, and flexible packaging were invited to attend and meet with equipment, software, ink, and substrate providers as they consider new investments that will help drive business growth. The equipment and technology providers, packaging and label manufacturers, and industry analysts in attendance gathered together for a master's level educational experience.

The ultimate purpose of any summit is to gather great minds so they can exchange information and tackle the many issues within today’s market, and the 2019 Digital Packaging Summit was no exception. Today’s service providers are hoping to make sense of a staggering amount of information as they invest in their businesses, and the brand owners in attendance graciously delivered real-world examples of the significant role that packaging plays in their overall success.

The Business World Continues to Change

Brand owners' imperatives have become increasingly complex in recent years. The need to get to market faster, adhere to regulatory concerns, and address audiences with more personalized messaging continues to build. In addition, technological innovations are changing how brands buy packaging and labels. They have also created the opportunity to penetrate markets that were once infeasible. The ways in which we do business have changed forever, and it is no longer clear who is driving industry growth.

In a world of stiff competition, where brands are challenged to increase their market share, the solution providers that support those brands also seeks ways to differentiate. Collaboration may seem counterintuitive to some and a bit risky to others, but it is more important now than it has ever been before. The participants and attendees that joined this year’s Digital Packaging Summit were able to see that collaboration come to life! 

Knowledge changes everything, bringing confidence to business owners and leaders faced with investment decisions and requirements to act. Removing yourself from the daily grind of the workweek to attend an industry event is undoubtedly a good start for gaining knowledge. At the same time, however, how people connect and share breakthrough ideas is notably the weathervane of a successful investment in time.

Highlights from the Summit

Over the span of the three-day Digital Packaging Summit, attendees broke into the product or application group (Labels, Folding Cartons, or Flexible Packaging & Corrugated) that most closely aligned to their interests and service offerings. Based on the group they chose, attendees also had the opportunity to participate in smaller break-out sessions. The formation of smaller groups enabled participants to take part in conversations that were more relevant to their specific business needs. They also had the opportunity to witness relevant case studies shared by each of the sponsors. Within each group, the conversations invited people to share off-script organic best practices and valuable business experiences. Attendees also had the chance to bring tough questions to the technology, software and media experts that attended the breakout sessions at the summit. Many of these questions were specific to automation, productivity, and operational improvement. 

The agenda of the event also provided an opportunity to hear from panelists each day. These panels were composed of business leaders responsible for bringing technologies to market, and many shared information about their innovations and technological advantages. The panel of service providers—those that print digital packaging and labels—openly shared the challenges they encountered when first embarking down the path to digital. They spoke frankly about the learning curve and any economics/drivers behind their decisions.

Perhaps the most valuable information was included in a panel delivered by Lisa Sohanpal, a brand owner who brilliantly described the road bumps she encountered when going to market. Sohanpal, the Founder of Nom Noms World Food, covered considerations for keeping her very important clients happy and discussed the critical role that packaging plays in the success of her brand. She also shared how she built a brand that has won dozens of awards for innovations in food, packaging, concept, and customer engagement. What began as a personal inspiration to bring healthy, wholesome meals to the market while also introducing families to authentic world flavors ultimately became a world-renowned brand. Attendees of the Digital Packaging Summit had the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Lisa to learn from her journey, including the many intricacies she had to manage while designing her packaging. In addition to talking about her inspiration to include an interactive element to her packaging, she also highlighted the value of a supply chain made of steel. Real-life stories from brands like Nom Noms World Food continue to teach the packaging and label industry how to navigate the rapid acceleration of time to market. The key take-away from these stories is that brand owners are passionate about their products, but they need your help to understand the possibilities available to them with digital print! 

A final theme that emerged during the summit was the pressing concern and fear of excess capacity on the shop floor. Although they are critical to business growth, new investments require a strategic plan that addresses where to capture and create the demand for digitally printed products, how to create value, and how to differentiate from the competition. The plan should also include a relentless examination of the markets you serve to help ensure profitability. In a recent study from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends, service providers were asked which tools they would be willing to invest in to help fuel business growth. The list included consulting services, sales skill development, hiring and onboarding new employees, playbooks to support sales methodology and activities, and content for marketing and sales enablement. Although each tool in the list demonstrated positive interest among survey participants, industry events, workshops, and trade shows emerged as the top tool to enable business growth.

The Bottom Line

Today’s service providers encounter a huge array of tools and information that are designed to shape their current and future needs, and the choices can be overwhelming. When you’re trying to decipher your business needs and make sense of all the available offerings, don’t leave it to chance. Events like the Digital Packaging Summit are designed to foster networking and confident business decisions that lead to profitable growth. Now is the time to engage and learn!

Karen Kimerer, Director of InfoTrends’ Business Development Strategies consulting service, 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. She is well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products.