How to Stand Out In the Thriving Packaging Label Business
Packaging labels are everywhere, from the grocery store to the gas station. Because they’re so common, we take for granted the level of thought and creativity it takes to truly manufacture winning labels, but there’s no question that they can make or break a company.
Need more proof? Danielle J. Kay, sales executive for Stylerite Label Corp., Rochester Hills, Mich., brings the point home. “Labels create a wide range of product identification, brand awareness and visuals for direct influences of a buyer’s decision,” she said.
What could be more important than a direct link to prospective buyers? Now that we’ve got you on board, find out what Kay and Nick Heinl, vice president of sales and new business development for Repacorp Inc., Tipp City, Ohio, had to say about taking your packaging label business to the next level.
1. Pick the Right Label
Choosing the right packaging label for your client’s campaign is a decision of monumental importance. Kay listed a few main points to consider during the selection process. “Depending on the application and purpose of the label, packaging labels must appeal to the target market and provide specific information to meet all requirements related to the content of the product being packaged,” she said. “When working with our customers, we ask [them]: What is the purpose of the label, what type of environment are the labels being used in and what are the labels going to be placed on? These are key factors when helping our customers and their clients decide the best materials, performance and cost for the labels application.”
Heinl provided some additional points to brainstorm, including: the shape of the package container, how the product is handled or dispensed, how the product is warehoused, the regulatory requirements and, of course, the budget.
2. Make the Design Shine
Once you’ve selected the proper label for your client’s packaging, you need to ensure the design itself is eye-catching. After all, you’re trying to grab prospective buyers’ attentions. “When preparing artwork, make sure the art is in CMYK mode and not RGB mode, which is for online art,” said Heinl. “The artwork should be created in high resolution to prevent blurry or pixelated images. Ensure chosen typefaces can be read from a distance, and that the font and colors used are crisp and legible.
“Outline fonts to ensure [there are] no missing fonts, and check for spelling and grammatical errors,” he continued. “Check for proper bleeds and that the artwork is the same size as your label specifications. If you have a UPC code, be sure to adhere to size recommendations and provide sufficient space around the UPC code for easy scanning and reading. Use ink, coatings, laminates and materials to enhance the label and differentiate your product from the others on the shelves.”
Heinl also stressed the importance of testing your labels, and purchasing a press proof to make sure everything is in order before the final deployment.
3. Stay Up-to-Date
In the ever-evolving world of packaging labels, your clients always will want to know what’s new. In order to provide them with the best service possible, it’s smart to be aware of the latest advancements. “For our manufacturing location, we are seeing a variety of customers requesting special die shapes and unique materials,” Kay said. “Our customers are asking and ordering more of a unique product description to gain a niche on their label orders.”
Heinl highlighted other advancements in the packaging label space. “Digital is in big demand due to cost-effective, shorter runs and quicker turn times,” he said. “Direct-to-press software eliminates the need for printing plates, and laser cutting eliminates the need for tooling, which in turn makes the distributor more competitive and saves their customers money. Customers liked ganging multiple SKUs into one print run and the savings this creates.”
Heinl added that, for Repacorp, RFID and shrink sleeves are in demand.
4. Make the Right Connections
In business, relationships are a main driver for success, and the label sector isn’t exempt from the Golden Rule. “It’s important to know your customers’ products and all applications of the labels,” said Kay. “This is a great impression you can make with your potential customers, knowing what they sell or how they are using the labels. It’s important, as well, to be honest and transparent with your customers and listen to their needs, wants and desires.
“[It’s] 70 percent listening and 30 percent talking,” she continued. “Always stay in touch with your customers and follow up with proactive calls or emails.”
In addition to your client connections, it’s important to build relationships with the right manufacturers, too. “A distributor should look to a manufacturer who will offer quality materials at a competitive cost, exceptional print quality, a low rate of customer-facing quality issues on orders, expedient delivery and a long-standing knowledgeable and friendly staff whom the distributor can build a long-lasting, trustworthy partnership and friendship with,” she advised. “Building a strong bond of trust with your supplier can go a long way for all parties.”
Heinl agreed that keeping an open dialogue with your manufacturer, including touring facilities, attending webinars and asking questions, not only will enable you to become a “go-to distributor” for packaging labels, but it also will aid you in decreasing costs for your customers.
5. Cut Customer Costs
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the ins and outs of the packaging label business and made the right connections, you can continue to build on these relationships through a consultative approach. This often involves cost-cutting solutions. Heinl discussed ways you can help. “The selected material could be overkill for the application,” he said. “If distributors know materials and the application, they might be able to suggest a material that will work just as well for the customers, but will also save them money. With UV inks, coatings and overlaminates are not always needed to protect the ink, and many times can be eliminated to reduce cost. Running multiple versions together on a digital press can save the customer a lot of money in press setup, plates and tooling.”
Kay had another suggestion to pitch clients. “By finding companies who will help with [the] implementation of Hold and Release programs, [you can help clients cut costs],” she said. “We find that many customers find this very effective to have signed contracts to manufacture a three- to six-month supply for hold in storage and monthly releases.”
6. Look Toward the Future
The packaging label sector can be a lucrative opportunity for print distributors, and the future looks as bright. “The packaging industry continues to change at an ever-increasing pace,” said Heinl. “Digital printing seems to continue to improve and accelerate [with] faster presses, hybrid presses, more colors, spot-color matching and new color management tools with outstanding results. However, what we are seeing in the future of label packaging is a shrinking qualified younger generation willing to work and advance the label market.”
Are you up for the job?