Recap: Smithers Pira’s Digital Print for Packaging US 2018

How to engage your customer from shelf to porch.

For the second year, Smithers Pira brought together more than 200 print shops, manufacturers, brand owners and specialists, and converters in the packaging industry for the US Digital Print for Packaging event in Schaumburg, Illinois, June 4-6.

The conference again proved what many attendees, and Big Picture readers, already know: There are major benefits to digital print, including shorter runs, mass customization, and faster turnaround. 

“Digital printing allows flexibility to customers by optimizing a product for the most enhanced customer experience, and also gives companies the ability to evaluate different, customized packaging formats before settling on the most effective,” said Karen English, market development manager at Printpack. 

But as we know, shoppers are changing and shopping is changing. Gen Z uses seven different screens daily (Seven!) and they’re heavily persuaded by social media. What kind of graphics are you creating in order to stay relevant to these new shoppers? Are they “Instagrammable” and selfie-worthy?

And where does the packaging world stand today as a whole, as the number of traditional brick-and-mortar stores rise and fall and online shopping entities like Amazon are breaking new record highs in the stock market? How does a digital print service provider offer graphics to both in-store retail and P-O-P applications as well as digitally printed packages that are shipped straight to the consumer’s door? What opportunities are there for brands to extend their reach?

Mary Ann Geers, VP of corporate strategy, GPA, said it still all starts in the store. She calls it “brand love: from shelf to porch packaging.” Geers said print shops should deliver real-life brand engagement by enhancing the brick-and-mortar store experience. “Customers want to see and touch the product, and they can’t do that online,” she said. “We need to help brands.” So, how do we do this? “Reach, engage, motivate.” Shoppers are in the store for 20 minutes and you have about three minutes to attract them to your product. How do this change your graphic offerings? 

Another option? Take the brand to the customer. Engage them where they are: concerts, stadiums, universities, and other public spaces via wall graphics, floor graphics, and other forms of signage that highlight the product. Geers gave a great example from Tide on how to get a customer to your client’s products; the laundry detergent company created floor graphics of their new product at the entrance of a grocery store, leading purchasers to the specific aisle housing the product. 

Speed to market and flexibility in inventory are key for meeting the challenges of the rapidly changing market. Digital print can be the answer. So, use the technology to experiment with personalization and customization. Find new ways for your clients to create a brand experience in their store and on the customer’s doorstep. Engagement, and profit, will increase.
 

For live updates from industry conferences and shows around the world, follow Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Palmer and Big Picture magazine on Twitter.