Here’s how you can meet the rising demand for customized packaging

“Over the last year, companies have been looking for print suppliers who can offer packaging tailored to their needs. With digital printing we can meet this demand,” said Oliver Lehbrink, CEO of print supplier Knappe + Lehbrink Promotion GmbH. “In the past, using offset printing it took ten to twelve days to prepare the job, print and laminate and then wait for the laminate to dry, before we could ship to the customer. With digital printing, most of those steps are unnecessary and our turnaround time is down to two or three days.”
Speaking as part of an HP Webinar, entitled ‘Insights & Trends In The Packaging Industry’, Lehbrink was explaining how his company, a highly successful print vendor and packaging specialist, is adapting to changing market conditions.
Together with most of the event’s other participants, Lehbrink reported a change in the market for printed packaging. The trend for customized, short-run packaging jobs — already a growing segment before the pandemic — has been accelerated by lockdown. One recent study found that the European packaging market is set to grow by 4.2% a year over the next six years, with much of that growth generated by increased demand for customized and short-run print jobs [1].
Like Knappe + Lehbrink, print service providers across Europe are looking for ways to meet this demand.

What’s driving the change?

In 2020, the European e-commerce market grew by 30% [2]. Whether it was because of lockdown or simply because they wanted to avoid crowded shops, consumers turned in their droves to online merchants. This changed the nature of marketing and selling for brands.
In the past, brands shipped in volume to retailers with fixed-cost brick-and-mortar stores, then used mass marketing campaigns to sell inventory at a profit and in the required turnaround time. Now, e-commerce allows them to target their marketing niche audiences, then package and ship products on demand, to short turnaround times.
For this strategy to work, brands need the firms that provide their packaging to be able to produce customized and short-turnround print jobs. “The move online created a much more level playing field for brands” said Paul Jenkins, Managing Director of ThePackHub. “The whole way shoppers use e-commerce gives advantages to smaller brands. They’re able to get to their target audiences in a much more cost-effective way. They can do something locally or internationally in a way they just couldn’t have done five or ten years ago.”

Meeting the challenge of a changing market

Oliver Lehbrink again: “We chose an HP Latex R2000 Plus Printer because we wanted a system which used water-based inks. That avoids the odor associated with UV-printing, which was unacceptable to many of our clients who are in the food and drinks sector. It also allows, as I mentioned before, for a faster turnaround time. We could direct-print on cardboard without laminating and the drying time associated with it. It’s also much cheaper than off-set printing.”

Lehbrink was describing his firm’s response to the growing demand among brands for fast-turnround and customized packaging: a demand which the switch to digital printing, specifically the HP Latex R2000 Plus Printer, has enabled him to meet.

The modern generation of HP Latex Printers for the packaging sector, such as the HP Latex R2000 Plus Printer delivers a market-beating combination of fast print times, fast drying and finishing times, water-based and odorless prints and ease of use.

As well as enabling short-run, fast turnaround work, switching to HP Latex digital printing also allows you to offer high-value specialty boxes and displays with the glossiest white [3] and the most vibrant colors [4]. This is possible thanks to flexible ink that enables better folding and bending without cracking, compared to UV-ink-based technologies.

“Nowadays the customer wants customization” said Mattia Pinton of the Italian print provider Tic Tac. “That necessarily means reducing quantity, increasing quality and giving customers the opportunity to manage reprints, even with graphic design or die changes. This would once have been extremely costly. Now, instead, by means of digital printing and cutting, we offer customers the possibility of ordering small batches and placing frequent repeat orders.”

“With HP Latex Printers, you can say yes to customers who ask for short-run, fast turnaround and customized print jobs,” said [HP spokesperson]. “And you don’t have to outsource these jobs to do it. That means more work for you, and you keep the customer relationship inhouse and uninterrupted. By diversifying into customized, short-run work, you protect the business you have today and expand into a new a growing segment.”

Webinar recording

‘HP Printed Packaging – Insights & Trends in the Packaging Industry’ webinar.


  3. Glossiest white based on internal HP testing in January, 2018 compared to leading competitive printers with CMYK configuration under $350,000 USD. Based on level of gloss at 60 degrees on a rigid material (acrylic). Tested using Glossmeter BYK micro-TRI-gloss (20°, 60°, 85°), compatible with ISO 2813 and ASTM D523 relative to glossiness measure.
  4. Most vibrant colors based on internal HP testing, January 2018 compared to leading competitive printers with CMYK configuration under $350,000 USD. Tested in High Quality print mode on rigid (white acrylic 12-pass, 6-color, 120%). Internal HP testing with HP GamutViewer, Alpha Shapes=50000.

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