Luxury packaging – it ensures that a brand’s image is enhanced and makes unpacking a product a memorable experience. I took a look round the Luxepack 2017 show to see what German providers are able to offer in terms of “luxury packaging”.
Luxury packaging is not subject to the same demands as most FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) packaging. It has to have a premium and an appealing look and feel, and indeed made to meet quite specific standards. In addition to design, print and finishing are by far the most important factors in showcasing brands appropriately at the PoS. And because brand owners are well aware of that fact, they look for inspiration or print and fulfillment partners for their products at trade shows like Luxepack.
Growth potential exists: the packaging market is governed by ever increasing diversity and consequently by decreasing print-run sizes, which in turn is predetermined by current developments in sellers’ and consumers’ demand behavior. Rising expectations are being driven in particular by the food packaging segment. That’s because even brands that originally were not associated with luxury now focus on customized print and special packaging. Printing press manufacturers and print providers are confronting this issue by offering ever declining prices for print runs of 1 and personalization options. For this reason I travelled to Monaco at the beginning of October and visited Luxepack, an international luxury product packaging exhibition that has been staged annually in the Principality since 1998. The exhibition’s credo is exclusivity and it deliberately focuses on that, both as far as exhibitors and visitors are concerned. To be able to exhibit, you have to apply in advance and only visitors that can prove an affiliation with the packaging industry or that work for companies that are looking for packaging and ideas for their high-priced products are granted admittance. This year more than 400 exhibitors again showcased their premium packaging solutions for products like jewelry, perfumes, spirits etc. at Luxepack. And given that German companies – to some extent long-established providers that have been operating in this sector for many years – were represented in nearly all the relevant sections of this “special” trade show, I will be profiling a couple of these German packaging specialists below.
Printed electronics – does that dovetail with packaging? Indeed it does. The Chemnitz-based ink manufacturer Saralon attracted my attention straightaway at Luxepack. As a “spin-off” from the PMT Institute at Chemnitz University of Technology, Saralon actions different packaging applications using its self-developed, solvent-containing electronic inks. Theyinclude the illumination of packaging using LEDs, usage for the purposes of packaging integrity checks and other marketing applications that rely on lighting. Given that the function of printed electronics requires thick layers on each substrate, application options have to date been restricted to silkscreen printing. As far as usage in conjunction with luxury packaging is concerned, there will certainly be a wider range of printed electronics applications in the future. Manufacturing costs – large packaging can cost between 5 and 7 Euros – and high energy consumption or rather an adequate energy supply still currently restrict packaging applications incorporating printed electronics.
“The luxury packaging market is not an easy one for suppliers, print providers and converters/finishers to compete in. Brand owners and consumers can estimate the “value” of packaging in addition to the actual content pretty accurately.” – Bernd Zipper
The machinery manufacturer Kolbus also exhibited at this year’s Luxepack in the finishing category. Originally specializing in book cover production, this company has prioritized packaging production for some time now. Work on developing systems for the automated processing of short premium-quality cardboard packaging print runs started five years ago, so Kolbus therefore already has several packaging solutions up its sleeve. But since I want to profile these opportunities in more detail in my blog in the near future, I won’t be delving any deeper at this point. What I can reveal is that it’s worth waiting!
Laser punching is now integral to the packaging industry and cardboard production in particular. Highlight Media from Baden-Württemberg was also represented at Luxepack 2017 for the first time. Several elegant examples of lasered packaging were on display at its booth. This company, which was established in 2011, originally employed laser technology using specially developed machinery to meet rising quality standards in this segment. But since awareness and the product maturity of Highcon’s digital cutting machines has increased, Highlight Media now employs a Highcon Euclid, which enables short and large print runs starting at „single-item“ runs up to a 70 x 100 cm sheet format to be processed cost-effectively and also finished inline. There are also hardly any limits in terms of paper-based substrate processing flexibility.
What I also found very interesting was seeing what innovations Rathgeber had in its portfolio in terms of labeling for prominent brands. Rathgeber, as a specialist in signage, logos and emblems, does not restrict itself to paper as a substrate and provides solutions in a range of areas. I have already reported on one of these in this blog. New applications include NFC labels, which promote cross-selling of luxury brands, as well as labels for textile substrates. The Flexxline brand message uses PUR as a medium and is printed using the silkscreen method, although haptic effects can be achieved through the specific combination of different textures using embossing. The emblem is then applied to the textile substrate using a hot-melt adhesive. Rathgeber is thus extending its solutions portfolio and creating additional and valuable brand communication opportunities.
Another provider from Germany that was represented at Luxepack is the coatings specialist, Kurz. The Fürth-based developer of a broad range of thin-layer technologies – the Kurz group of companies also provides printed electronics, proprietary software development services and manufactures printing presses and embossing machinery – showcased a number of labeling solutions at two booths. One of the applications called “Trustconcept” incorporates a combination of printed or film labels and app-generated presentation of additional information based on hologram features. This enables, for example, security functions, like Track & Trace, or customer data collection options to be added to packaging and captured via software.
My take: packaging for high-priced products does not involve penny-pinching. It doesn’t work that way, because the demands on print and system providers are simply too high. This year’s Luxepack clearly showed that German luxury packaging production providers definitely have something to offer. Print needs to be versatile – and it is! That elite group of luxury packaging providers and consumers is also well aware of the potential of printed packaging, because print not only creates a visually and haptically appealing consumer experience, but also combines complex technologies that factor in brand image.