BY RAFFAELE PACE
Product manager for labelling, Sidel
How can producers use the personalisation trend to improve their reputation while still meeting demand? Research indicates that consumers take only an average of around three to seven seconds to pick a drink from the shelves of our supermarkets. Admittedly this choice will often be influenced by the consumer’s past experiences and consumption habits. However, in the instances where a shopper is looking to make a spontaneous choice, the packaging plays a significant role – and today labelling is an area of growing importance in the overall bottling of liquids.
Just a label? Not any longer.
Years ago, the bottle label was just a vehicle for carrying the beverage name, a little corporate branding and the little product information that was required by law. In today’s sophisticated marketplace, much greater emphasis is placed upon the label and its marketing value as an important interface with the consumer.
It is now recognised as a fundamental marketing element that helps establish and build brand awareness among potential customers. A label design that is striking and memorable will place its brand firmly in the memory of the customer – hugely important in a very competitive marketplace.
Labels in focus
Shrink sleeve labelling (SSL) is an area that is growing more rapidly than any other labelling technology. It offers a greater surface area to accommodate information, enabling product differentiation through colour, shape and messaging. This is important when you consider the buying process – when a potential customer is, say, 10m from the supermarket shelf, it will probably be the label colour that is the main focus; when they get a little closer, it’s the shape; and when they are really close it is the product contents.
For those charged with “building the brand”, the label remains one of the prime means of direct communication with the buying public. The greater freedom afforded for graphic design is one reason why SSL is rapidly growing in popularity – particularly among those producers operating in well-established markets. As the designer’s role is to make the packaging as attractive as possible to the consumer, this freedom generally leads to more innovative and eye-catching layouts. The extra space also allows the position of data such as volume, contents, barcode and other legally required information, in addition to enabling producers to add messages and communications of their own choice.
Making it personal
Another trend within packaging is making the consumer experience more personal. Smaller batches, with their own specific labelling, are produced in very short lead times. Often undertaken in connection with a public celebration or sporting occasion, this kind of personalisation of the “everyday” label often starts with a marketing idea. This then has to go through the design and production phases for production of the necessary artwork as well as storage, transportation and distribution of customised packages. The whole process for even a short-term change of label can, in fact, take well over four months from concept to delivery of products to the point of sale.
Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign
The 2013 summer “Share a Coke” campaign from Coca-Cola was one example of product personalisation. Running in over 30 European countries and featuring each participating country’s 150 most common names in place of the company’s iconic logo, the campaign made the most of shorter, adaptable printing runs. It proved an outstanding success and demonstrates the impact of effective labelling.
What’s next for labelling?
The introduction of “iprinting”, which allows printing directly onto the bottle, is adding even greater possibilities for personalisation. We are already seeing the development of machines which allow consumers to mix their own drinks, with the potential for them to also have their own image printed onto the bottle.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2023