Stuck on You
It's the first thing customers notice when they are trolling supermarket aisles and retail giants—labels stuck to bottles and jars and tags hanging from shirts, pants and shoes. For some consumers, it may be what helps them pick between Skippy or Jif, Pepsi over Coke or helps them choose what to pour over their salads.
Which leads to Kraft dressing. In 2007, Kraft Foods made a packaging change when its market share for salad dressing dropped by 4.7 percent, according to a case study entitled: "New Label Proves To Be More Than Mere Window Dressing." To get back on top, the company changed its glue-applied cut-and-stack paper label and bottle to a clear-on-clear pressure-sensitive film label.
The difference was huge. A 52-week study conducted by ACNielsen and completed in June 2008, showed the new package design and reformulated salad dressings resulted in sales of its light style of dressing to increase 15.8 percent. Sales dollar and unit sales increased in 2009, too.
There's no question, custom labels and tags matter.
Western States Envelope & Label, headquartered in Butler, Wis., constantly is developing custom labels.
"We have the ability to laser die cut products inline on supported pressure-sensitive films and paper stocks," said Eric Schmidt, plant manager. "We developed a label product that uses a specialty adhesive that can be cryogenically frozen. This was developed for a distributor that was looking to identify organ transplant storage devices that could function at a very cold temperature and remain attached for product integrity."
And, exciting things in the business are on the horizon including improvements in technology.
"Continual improvements in the technology of flexo equipment [is very exciting]," Schmidt noted. "This will allow for better graphics, shorter runs and more cost-effective set-up times and running."
Dale "DJ" Jacoby, vice president/general manager of Random Lake, Wisconsin-based Badger Tag & Label, finds the continuous development of new materials and printing processes very exciting.
"The world of custom printed tags and labels is alive and well," he commented.
The custom tag and label business is thriving, and the future continues to appear promising.
Several things will become important in the next 10 years.
"[An] increase in materials available to use, especially films," Schmidt said. "The environment will become more important. The process of manufacturing will be scrutinized, but clients want the product packaging on the retail shelf to be environmentally friendly, also. [In addition,] speed to market will continue to be important, as will just-in-time short runs. The ability to produce variable four-color labels on a variety of substrates will be required."
Labels and tags may have seemed unscathed by the flatlining economy, but both Western States and Badger were impacted.
"We re-structured ourselves to survive the downturn as well as prosper as our nation lifts itself from recession," Greg Retzer, Western States national sales manager, explained. "Order sizes were reduced on some larger quantity orders to decrease inventory and increase order cycles. We have had to focus on quality and short-run speed-to-market and get better at it."
Rita Horstmeier, sales/marketing manager for Badger Tag & Label, said the company was definitely affected by the economic downturn in 2009.
"We were fortunate enough, though, that our business rebounded quite nicely through 2010. We have found that during that time we didn't necessarily lose our customer base, we were simply part of a vicious circle of a business slow down. As we went through 2010, many of our customers reached the point for re-orders and also saw the need to start new projects. We also helped our customers during this time by working with them to look at their current needs and find ways to improve how they use various tags and labels," she stated.
Times of ups and downs are exactly why companies need to find ways to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Retzer said Western States one-ups the competition with its staff.
"We have a well-trained sales force that works one-to-one with customers to provide label and envelope solutions," he commented. "Our sales reps work with the sales reps and customer service personnel of our customers to help them find the right product for every application. We continually bring new ideas to printers and distributors with the goal of helping to improve their clients' business. In labels, that translates to better packaging, point of purchase or advertising options. It also gives us the opportunity to help the distributor provide the highly technical solution. Distributors appreciate working with us on specialty projects."
What sets Badger Tag & Label apart from competitors? Simple.
"[It] is our commitment to small town, Midwestern values," Horstmeier boasted. "We take customer care very seriously. On any given day that you call into our office, you will immediately be speaking to a live person who can take care of your needs at that time. Also, our management team is available at any time to help with more in-depth needs you may have. Because we are a custom manufacturer, we are always prepared to think outside the box to help you solve a problem you may be having with a tag or label. We will always give suggestions and work with the customer to develop the most useful tag or label at the best value."
Jacoby piggybacked on her response.
"As we know, tags and labels do have a price. However, there are many cases where using our products can in fact save money by streamlining an operation or process," he said.
As for this year and the ones that follow, Western States Envelope & Label is optimistic.
"Moving into 2011 as the economy ramps up—employers are hesitant to add staff, so existing staffs will be stretched," Retzer noted. "A print professional will recognize the opportunity to build rapport to establish a turn-key relationship. They will want to be the primary vendor with a toolbox of resources at his or her disposal. Western States Envelope & Label continues be the foundation for that toolbox and the perfect partner for all print professionals." ￼