Andrew Kaplan from Beverage World has written a nice piece about customizable beverage label packaging for bottles and cans. I referenced the article as a piece to read about the week I was on vacation, but you can also click here to read the article again. Kaplan states that companies now have the option of not only producing their branding copy and logos, but also producing customized labels by digital printing to attract consumers’ attention to the product. Ball Packaging Europe, the same company that Monster Energy contracted to product the Monster Import resealable can, is already producing customized labels for some customers to market special edition beverages. Kaplan also reports that 20% of all new installed printing machines have digital capabilities, which makes it economical to consider digital printing as an option since a beverage company now has many options to adjust their packaging on the fly.
Despite all the technological advances in packaging, why has North America been slow in adopting these innovations? On the manufacturing side, the machine cost is likely to be expensive and only when a current machine is breaking down will anyone consider the cost of replacing it. Then numerous people needs to be convinced that they need digital printing with the new machine, and benefits are weighed against cost and even then manufacturers may decide to stick with the traditional printing machines.
On the consumer end, it would be great to use digital printing to provide consumers with customized and fresh packaging every time they walk down the aisle to purchase your product. However, unless consumers understand that your beverage’s branding involves constantly changing packaging, the company will risk losing a customer because they can’t find your product at the point of sale. The beverage company would miss out on numerous opportunities to continue advertising their product and getting your attention. That’s why so far only companies have limited with this type of packaging to special edition beverages like collector’s items.
So far, the only success with a North American beverage company that has constantly changing packaging is Jones Soda, where they change their center image based on users submitting pictures. Even then Jones only changes the picture itself and not the complete labeling. It’s not that customized labeling for beverages hasn’t been done before, it’s just uncommon. Going forward, if beverage companies were to succeed using digital printing, they would need to involve the consumers and invite them to submit designs to print on the bottle or can. North American consumers may not be ready for the changing packaging designs on the bottles just yet, but they have already been exposed to it through the Doritos’ Superbowl ads and new flavor chip bag designs, as well as Nestle’s Smartie Chocolates box designs. It is only a matter of time before Coca-Cola, Pepsi or some other beverage company tries blank labeling and involves the consumer by running a contest similar to the chips and candy companies.