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Diversity rules – the emergence and rise of short-run print jobs

Labels Diversity rules – the emergence and rise of short run print jobs


by Danny Mertens

No matter where you look in the world of printing, short-run jobs are becoming increasingly important. Just last year Drupa’s 2nd Global Trends Report confirmed that trend and today the numbers seem even more convincing. The big question then is why is that, and how can label printers turn this trend into a strong suit for their business. In this article, we will try to provide an answer to both questions.

Diversity rules – the emergence and rise of short-run print jobs

The growing demand for short run jobs signal a change in attitude of brand owners and consumers. Where the big corporate brands used to want to coerce everyone into using their product or service, they know apply a different strategy – namely diversification. Instead of creating one product for the masses, they come up with as many variations as possible, to better appeal to the needs of their target audience.


Evidently, these product variations require their own image and their own ID. Packaging can do that and will effectively make them stand apart on the shelf. For packaging and label printers this means they are and will continue to see an increase in greater variation (SKU) but with declining volumes.


The emergence of local economies

However, there is another contributing factor to the rise of short run printing, which has to do with the growing importance of local economies. Facilitated by the widespread popularity of social media, a large number of smaller brands are rising into the market – check out your local micro brewery, for example. They aren’t so much concerned with global dominance but rather focus on a very specific demographic (a village or region) of people who value authenticity and quality.


Digital printing allows diversification

For label printers to provide a fitting answer to these challenges means they need to invest in technology that allows them to diversify and shorten turnaround times, at affordable costs without sacrificing print quality. Hence the growing popularity of digital presses. They have low setup costs (no printing plates required), they print low volumes faster than conventional presses and they handle variable print jobs way more efficiently.


Embrace both digital and conventional technology

Looking at the label printing industry, we see a clear trend towards digital machines. However, that is not to say that conventional technology has lost its merits – far from it. At Xeikon, we see flexographic and digital as complementary technologies, rather than excluding one another. In a world where you have the choice to maximize your profit margins, it’s important for printers to use the best technology for each job. In some cases, especially with long-run jobs, conventional presses will be more efficient; in other cases, the shorter-run jobs, digital presses will be better equipped. It just depends on the nature of the job and the volume.

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