Print+Promo 2019 State of the Industry Report: Labels are Sticking Around for the Long Haul
For Print+Promo’s 2019 State of the Industry Report, we dug deep to measure print industry health, learn how policies from the Trump administration are impacting print and promo, and find answers to questions, like: Which verticals are poised for growth?
As part of our investigation, we reached out to experts in various market segments: printed forms, labels, promotional products and direct mail. Below is an excerpt from my conversation with John Becker, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Discount Labels, New Albany, Ind. Find out what he had to say about the current state of labels, the effects of material price increases and areas of opportunities.
It’s no secret that material price increases continue to be a struggle. Is there a solution in sight? What are some other big changes that you believe will make an impact this year, and what will drive them?
John Becker: Material increases are a killer, because we can eat only so much of it before we have to pass it on to our customers. The only way to combat it is to be a solutions provider for our customers. Find ways to help them with alternative material options, different embellishments or make-and-hold options to defray the cost through volume. The label industry is a dynamic one, and we are seeing many positive changes. The introduction of augmented reality, sleeker embellishments, faster presses and in-line test units are all benefiting the industry.
Last year when we chatted, you mentioned that Discount Labels was in “investment mode,” and that it was a “big growth period” for the company. How has that played out for the company, and if you could pick a theme for 2019, what would it be?
JB: The growth has continued in the New Year. Our decision to add outside sales reps across the country has been well-received by our existing distributor base, and has already created a strong return on investment. The new digital press has already ramped up to 24/7, and we are currently installing a 70' Nilpeter FA-4 flexo press in our New Albany plant that will be the biggest workhorse in our fleet. Our theme for 2019 is “Growth through Partnerships!”
As more consumers skew younger, what kinds of innovation are you seeing in the digitalized makeover of labels for consumer products?
JB: Younger consumers, as well as more creative design professionals, have brought us quickly into new areas. We did an 8-million label job of augmented reality labels. We are seeing labels with multiple flourishes, including embossing, raised ink, foils and gradient colors, all on a single label. We are also getting a lot of new jobs for just plain old sticker sheets that employers are sharing with their young employees on holidays and employee recognition days. In fact, just this week, we printed 1.1 million branded emoji sheets for a Fortune 100 company, brought to us by a distributor partner.
Based on past trends, what are your expectations for the short-term future of labels?
JB: We are very bullish on the short-term prospects of labels. Flexible packaging is encroaching on some of the traditional label business in the retail and manufacturing markets, but there are new business opportunities every day that fill that void. We ran 2.1 million labels for a state agency that wanted to move from a paper-based boat registration record to a decal that can be displayed on the outside of the boat. Labels are everywhere, in every industry, and significant growth is still attainable.
Related story: Print+Promo's 2019 State of the Industry Report