A major challenge for brands in the modern retail marketplace is to positively influence shopper behavior through fresh, relevant and dynamic messaging. Marketers constantly adjust promotional copy and offers through event, mobile and social marketing to break through to the buyer amid the noise of competitors. What’s new? Well, now the solution to this challenge may extend beyond digital marketing, in-store signage and displays — down to the very product package itself.
The market has recently seen some creative and effective uses of customized packaging from large brands like Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Oreos and KitKat. These brands’ creative initiatives were made possible through the new capabilities of digital print technology. Yet beyond the primary package that holds the individual product itself, the next great frontier for digital print is the secondary package that holds them — i.e., the corrugated box.
Digital Printing on Corrugated Packaging
Digital print for short runs has been around for years, especially with labels and flexible packaging. Yet through recent technology advancements, digital has now extended to high-volume printing on corrugated packaging material, allowing for vibrant graphics and unique messaging, all while reducing planning complexity and time to market.
The secondary package — the corrugated box — is the new frontier of variable and versioned product messaging. Through recent breakthroughs in digital print, especially using food-safe, water-based ink and reliable thermal inkjet technology, the corrugated box is becoming a new creative space. The box design itself can now be delivered customized and versioned to influence shoppers’ in-store buying experiences. Through retail-ready packaging, the corrugated box can also transform a store’s floor space into a space-efficient extension of the product itself using vibrant, high-quality graphics.
Benefits Unique to Digital
Since digital print technologies don't have the restrictions of plates, dies and set-up processes required by analog print, new levels of flexibility are now possible for the brand owner. Here are four benefits of venturing into digital print for corrugated packaging:
- Versioning: Brands can cost effectively create a variety of versions for micro-segmentation, market testing and product lifecycle management.
- Customization and Personalization: Every box could be unique, from serialized barcoding and digital watermarking to personalized photos, names and designs.
- Reduced Time to Market: Brand owners can now create messaging in days rather than weeks.
- Flexibility: Brands can print only what's needed, avoiding paying for unnecessarily high volumes that would be discarded due to obsolescence.
Social Media Meets Digitally Printed Fruit Boxes
Melinda, a large Italian apple supplier, set out to show support for victims affected by the 2016 earthquake in Italy by engaging consumers via social media. Melinda used Facebook to promote “Dedicamela,” (Pledge an Apple), inviting followers to post a personal sentiment or dedication, which would then be printed on Melinda’s corrugated apple boxes. For each personal dedication chosen to be printed, one euro would be donated to the charity.
The boxes were custom-printed and distributed within days, driving traffic to local communities in which consumers searched for their boxes on the shelves. The Dedicamela campaign received wide publicity, and within two weeks, approximately 23,000 Facebook dedications were received. Melinda’s campaign was successful because it created a fun and effective way for consumers to engage with the brand on multiple levels.
Melinda’s custom box campaign is just one example of the potential of digital print. We're only at the beginning of the brand owner’s exploratory process of how to creatively and effectively use digital print to inform, inspire and engage consumers. What campaign might you create with digital print and corrugated packaging?
David Murphy serves as worldwide marketing director for HP’s PageWide Industrial division. David and his team drive the division's global marketing strategy, product marketing and business development.