“I’m happy to pay four times the cost of conventional printing to get the convenience and flexibility of digital print for packaging,” noted a brand manager from Nestlé. She runs the impulse purchases business in Israel. “Print completes the message of digital on packaging,” she said.
“I love to tell marketers: Yes, you CAN make that copy tweak on packaging,” said the head of private brand product development at Vitamin Shoppe. She uses digital print for ALL of those little bottles filled with vitamins and supplements.
These were just a few things overheard at Dscoop in Dallas, Texas. Dscoop (digital solutions co-op) is a user group meeting run by HP Indigo for print service providers that inspires companies to incorporate digital print into their core capabilities.
The three day event (March 25-28) this year boasted several keynotes, including Dan Heath (Harvard Business School, best-selling author), Andrew Davis (@drewdavishere), Alon Bar-Shany (General Manager at HP Indigo), 60+ educational sessions (one presented by yours truly) and a showcase floor featuring 90+ exhibitors and solution providers (full disclosure: including Danaher companies Esko, Enfocus and AVT).
Heath spoke about creating peak moments, which are the key ingredient in creating meaningful, memorable experiences. He noted that as a society we are trained to solve problems, not craft moments of meaning.
As I sat alongside many in the printverse, I reflected on this thought; I believe that many brand leaders see packaging as a problem to be solved, rather than an opportunity to create a peak moment that haloes its effect over the entire brand experience.
“At Dscoop, we want to bring together print service providers, agencies and brands to help them see what’s possible now with digital print,” said CEO of Dscoop, Keith Wilmot.
Interestingly, Bar-Shany pointed out that the $205 billion dollars spent on packaging (labels, folding cartons, flexible packaging) in 2016 was higher than TV advertising spend ($191 billion) in the same year.
This year, Dscoop took on an inspirational and aspirational air with the theme “Unleashing Print” and the addition of a brand and creative day, when titans of the creative industry took to the stage to school the audience in the history of branding and what it means to bring an idea to life. We heard from Dana Arnett (VSA Partners) and creative for Nike, IBM and other well known brands) and Paula Scher (Designer for Philadelphia Museum of Art, The NEW School, among others), as well as brand leaders like Nestlé and Vitamin Shoppe mentioned above.
The use cases for digital print for mass brands have to date been somewhat limited to making photobooks (i.e., Shutterfly) and to promotional packaging (i.e., Share-A-Coke), but digital print has yet to make major inroads into the standard operations of supply chains at big brands.
When I visited the showcase this year, I brought my family along. I always like to see what my kids gravitate toward and see how people explain complex solutions and technology to, say, my 8-year-old, for instance.
They were drawn to fancy, beautiful metallic boxes, and one of the kind HP reps showed them how to the boxes would be folded and glued before being filled with product. (Of course not by children, but by big automated machines!)
Also making the highlights for the school-aged category were the counterfeit combatting technologies like UV inks and micro-printing. These were merchandised on the solution floor with old-fashioned looking chests that opened when you found the right code or key. So many adults were into this that my munchkins could do nothing but spectate in riveted suspense.
I shared an educational session on The Digital Maturity Model for Brand Packaging at this year’s show. This model shows how value is created in the form of cost position, risk and quality management, visibility and connectivity, speed to market and responsiveness.
By adopting digital tools within the brand packaging function for color management, content management, shape and 3D design, as well as graphics and artwork, brand organizations are increasing their capabilities to deliver value through packaging. I wasn’t sure how the print service provider audience would respond to the material, because I usually present to brand leaders in marketing and design, but I was so pleasantly surprised and receptive to their feedback! Here’s what I learned:
- Print service providers (PSPs) want to better empathize with brand leaders, to understand the world they live in. PSPs would like to be ‘in the loop,’ to remain aware of all the pressures on brand leaders. They want to better understand how brand leaders approach print so they can serve their customers better.
- It’s not enough to digitize the packaging process at the brand/client side. In order for brand organizations to take full advantage of digital strategies, they have to look at their supply chains and take actions to digitize all the points of value creation along the way. If this doesn’t happen, brand leaders risk exerting tons of effort to digitize their workflow and processes, only to be sitting as an island in a sea of manual, analog processes with the creative/design process on one side and the PSPs on the other.
- PSPs need to show off their digital capabilities to brand leaders, not just in terms of digital print, but in the way they manage their presses, their teams and the workflow throughout their operation. PSPs may not realize how important these capabilities are to brand leaders.
I left my session attendees with these three questions to consider:
- What do I need to digitize, automate and connect?
- What tools do I need to increase my digital maturity?
- Who else do I need to bring along on my digital maturity journey
If PSPs can answer those questions, I think they’ll be better prepared to serve their partners and improve their own processes.
Final Scoop on DScoop
Before my visit to Dscoop concluded, I ran into Amanda Bass, Head of Creative Services at Aflac, who will helm the Executive Committee for next year’s USA event in Orlando. Bass is committed to incorporating new ideas into the event and expanding the audience beyond printers and solution providers and further into agencies and brand organizations.
“There’s so much opportunity to connect ideas through the community and I’m committed to taking the conference to the next level, integrating the experience for printer, solutions providers and brands alike,” said Bass.“Next year’s Dscoop promises to tell a bigger story of digital capabilities for creating packaging and printed materials to more companies too!”