Self-adhesive labels as solutions providers in the trend-conscious beverage marketplace…
It is the experience of a particular product which appeals to the consumer, according to Rik Olthof of international branding and packaging design consultants Claessens Cartils. He adds: ‘Branding used to be about information and, more recently, about identification. Nowadays, ‘experience’ is a new dimension that brand owners create with their packaging. It is not the ‘bling’ effect that creates brands, it is the brand’s ability to surprise and inspire, underline the consumer’s identity, and create an emotional atmosphere that is worth sharing’. Innovative packaging and labelling concepts are an essential component of this new branding approach. Companies like Heineken have proved this time and again. ‘The same beer with different bottle decoration presents a different experience for the customer!’, says Mr Olthof. This trend is, indeed, particularly visible in the premium beer and wine markets – two global beverage segments which have found that self-adhesive labels, as part of the packaging mix, can deliver the look and feel that match today’s consumer aspirations.
Making aspirations reality Translating this concept into reality is a challenge for which self-adhesive labels are particularly well equipped in the world of premium packaging – particularly on glass bottles. Beverages – especially beer and wine – have enthusiastically embraced the technology in the last few years. Paul Jarvis, Chief Executive of the 4Impression Training Group, which focuses on self-adhesive label print, says that ‘the flexibility of the self-adhesive label platform is part of the reason for this.
The unique self-adhesive “sandwich” of a face material, adhesive, and release-coated carrier liner makes it possible to design, print, and diecut labels in complex shapes and sizes that would seriously challenge other label technologies.’ Added-value options Multicolour print can be enhanced, in the same press pass, with other surface effects, such as embossing, metallic foiling, holograms, and the use of ‘active’ colour-changing inks – thermochromic, which react to changing temperatures or photochromic, which react to light. Clear film labels deliver the popular ‘no label look’ on glass bottles. Limited editioning is a practical option for sports events and other special occasions, and personalised ‘one-offs’ are even possible and affordable with digital label print. Track-and-trace, product authentication, and tamper-evident features can be added. Finally, self-adhesive labels are cleanly, automatically, and accurately applied on the packaging line.
‘Taken together’, adds Paul Jarvis, ‘self-adhesive labelling’s characteristics represents real added value and flexibility for the brand owner and contract packer, and – importantly – often delivers a lower total applied cost than other labelling technologies.’
As visitors to the recent Brau Beviale global beer exhibition in Nürnberg, Germany, and Emballage in Paris saw for themselves, the label has become a key packaging element on the retail shelf that attracts the eye of the consumer at what Procter & Gamble describe as the ‘first moment of truth’ in the consumer’s purchasing process. As Rik Olthof explains, brand owners have less time to ‘sell’ their products from the retail shelf than before. ‘In 1981’, he says, ‘a consumer visit to a supermarket took 40 minutes. Today, the average is just 20 minutes. At the same time, the number of items on the shelf has quadrupled.’ Functional features AWA Alexander Watson Associates – international consultants specialising in packaging – have researched the beverage market in depth. Says President & CEO Corey M Reardon: ‘Increased competition is making manufacturers focus on their branding and marketing. For both primary product labels and promotions, self-adhesive labelling has much to offer.
The functional features it can deliver, such as adhesives for special purposes – for pasteurisation, ice bucket performance, long storage in damp conditions (essential for vintage wines), and wash-off capability for returnable bottles – are encouraging beverage retailers and brand owners to consider a change from traditional glue-applied labels, which still command over 50% of the beverage market.’ Premium beers Mark Ruijgrok, Global Beer Director for self-adhesive labelstock manufacturers Avery Dennison, observes of the world’s leading brewers that ‘the top four companies not only have the volume business, but also the value business: the premium brands.’ Premium beers are a fashion market that must keep abreast of consumer preferences and aspirations, and their customers are increasingly global.
‘“Thinking out of the bottle” is essential for brand owners seeking to win the war for customers, and the label is a perfect starting point’, Mark Ruijgrok adds. The Global Packaging Project The European self-adhesive label industry, represented by FINAT, the industry association, is actively participating in the Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Packaging Project, and spearheading industry sustainability initiatives, with a current focus on waste management and recycling of process waste such as the release liner, which is discarded once self-adhesive labels are applied. Practical options for recycling both paper and film liner now exist, but the challenge remains to kick-start a regular liner waste collection system from end-user companies, for whom liner waste remains a very small part of their overall waste packaging consumption. Beverage packaging — diversifying ‘Beverage packaging, both in terms of containers and labels, is diversifying, with bag-in-box, PET bottles, gable-top cartons, and even flexible pouches joining glass bottles and cans on the supermarket shelf. In such an arena, a flexible and infinitely variable medium such as a self-adhesive label must have a strong future’, concludes Mark Ruijgrok.
FINAT, founded in Paris in 1958 and headquartered in The Hague (The Netherlands), is the world-wide association for manufacturers of self-adhesive labels and related products and services. With 600 members in over 50 countries around the world, FINAT has much to offer to label converters and all suppliers to the labeling industry in terms of information exchange and the opportunity to network internationally.