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FLEXO Magazine : January 2014
INDUSTRY INDICATORS Flexo At The Forefront Concerns, Evolutions, Future Advancements By Ian Hole A lot has changed since rubber plates were used to print 1- or 2-color jobs. Forty years ago, flexography was considered the poor stepson of print quality. Now, there is no doubt that the flexo process, combined with the structure of packaging, is the most flexible, yet complex, print method. Flexo continues to grow in stature as a preferred print pro- cess, particularly for packaging. As the quality of graphics, plates and platemaking improves, flexo successfully chal- lenges offset and gravure—both in quality and economics. PACKAGING’S POWER Of course, being involved in packaging—a segment of print that still exhibits growth—is encouraging. While com- mercial print is being replaced by electronic communication, products on shelves still need packaging. The demand for packaging is upbeat because brand owners understand how important packaging is in the marketing mix. They need powerful packaging more than ever. It used to be that all it took was a package that presented the product to the consumer, displayed what it was and, perhaps, showed some data, such as its ingredients, safety instructions or a sell by date. Now, the actual packaging and label are as import- ant as the brands being sold. Packaging is much more of an inherent part of the product than it used to be. This is also influenced by the creation of products devel- oped for thinner slices of target demographics. Marketing is more sophisticated than ever and research identifies individ- ual high usage groups. With this, the creative design on pack- aging takes on even greater importance. This is why print buyers have become much more involved in the process: They realize that packaging is very much a part of a product’s future. And so brand owners are taking a more controlling role in the quality and structure of packaging. TRENDS & PREDICTIONS • A product’s packaging is as important as the actual product in attracting a consumer’s attention • Other factors affect a brand’s image: - Transportation from manufacturer to point of sale - Shelf space - Palletization • Continuous improvement has driven flexo from afterthought to first choice • Automation, collaboration will be future advancements to watch The days of packaging as an afterthought are long gone; it is now a crucial piece of the puzzle. As Ian Hole puts it: “Packaging is much more of an inherent part of the product than it used to be.” 16 FLEXO JANUARY 2014 www.flexography.org