When stealthy label application can be an advantage

When we talk about label application, it’s often in terms of grabbing the most attention on a crowded shop shelf, and many brands choose bright colours and bold designs accordingly.

But there may be an argument to be made for a more subtle design – one that still carries plenty of weight, but which is not the first to be spotted on the shelf.

Research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology looks into how being discovered second can make it more likely that your product will be chosen.

“We propose that consumers infer, from their decisions to search for additional alternatives, that previously known alternatives are comparatively less attractive,” the researchers write.

“This results in an increase in preference for an alternative precisely because it was initially out of sight.”

What does this mean for label application? It might appear to confuse matters, as it flies in the face of labelling your products primarily so that they stand out on the shelf.

But it can also be positive for brands with a preference for more subtle label designs, as it may allow you to let your brash competitors attract shoppers to the shelves, before your sleek and elegant labelling secures you the sale.


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Automated label print and apply reduces RSI risk

An automated label print and apply process not only saves time and money, as well as boosting output; it can also reduce the risk of staff repetitive strain injury (RSI) compared with a manual process.

Manual labelling machines by their very nature require the operator to repeat the same motion again and again, increasing the likelihood of RSI and introducing an inevitable margin of human error.

But automated label print and apply removes both the error and the RSI risk, keeping staff healthy and productive, and removing the potential of a costly compensation claim.

Advanced Dynamics are now offering a free audit for food companies with manual labelling machines, who are interested in replacing these with automated labelling systems.

Meanwhile, in order to reduce the error margins further, Advanced Dynamics are launching an affordable de-stacking system, to remove pots and tubs from a stack and place them in the correct position for labelling.

This ensures the accuracy of automated labelling systems is not undermined by inaccurate positioning of pots for soups and stews.

Malcolm Little, managing director of Advanced Dynamics, said: “Automatic solutions take the hassle and risk out of many mundane and repetitive tasks in the food industry that can result in human error.

“We have innovative and affordable equipment available that can provide companies with a cutting edge to their processes.”

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How labelling machines brought feminine hygiene to the ‘front of shelf’

Feminine hygiene products can now often be found in a relatively prominent position in stores, according to Datamonitor Consumer, and labelling machines have had their part to play in achieving this.

No longer consigned to a dead-end aisle where men fear to tread, this is a category that has undergone a renaissance, even becoming fashionable in its own right.

The analyst says that in some cases, the packaging is attractive enough that it can be left out on a bedside table or in the bathroom, for all to see.

“Surface design is akin to a fashion item and supporting these moves is innovation in inks to create smooth-to-touch textures,” says a Datamonitor Consumer report.

“There are also bold-coloured wrappers in see-through boxes, if that better suits your personality. What they certainly are not, is hidden.”

Labelling machines clearly have an important role here, adding the product name and information, branding and fashionable design elements, and all without damaging the product within.

It’s a great example of how a once taboo product category has found its feet again, thanks in no small part to the more glamorous packaging used on the shop shelves of the 21st century.

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A real-world approach to food label print and apply

There seems to be an ever-increasing amount of complexity in food label print and apply rules, regulations and guidelines.

Nowadays you may need to include everything from a full ingredients list, showing potential allergens and percentage content of each, nutritional information per pack and per portion, storage instructions and coloured ‘traffic light’ warnings for high fat or sugar content, and so on.

A team at the University of North Carolina are now looking into yet another way to help consumers compare foods directly not only with one another, but also with the real-world activity needed to burn off their calorie content.

For example, they suggest labelling a normal hamburger as needing a 2.6-mile walk to burn off, whereas a double cheeseburger might require 5.6 miles, making a very clear and understandable basis for comparison.

“We believe that labels displaying information about physical activity will allow people to better appreciate the trade-offs of high-calorie foods, and thereby influence them to make choices for foods with lower calories,” says project co-leader Dr Anthony Viera.

But with a wealth of rules already in place for the food label print and apply process, showing calorie counts as a walking distance might prove to be a step too far.

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Shrink sleeving for shrinking package sizes

Shrink sleeving is a good way to make sure your label is a perfect fit for your package size, while maximising the usable label space – and with packages themselves shrinking in many markets, there’s less label ‘real estate’ to go around.

A number of segments have already shrunk in size, notably deodorants and concentrated fruit juices or cordials, but next on the list could be liquid laundry detergents.

Consumer analyst Mintel notes a campaign from US retailer Walmart – owner of ASDA in the UK – to reduce the amount of water used in laundry detergents by 25% by 2018.

This will save an estimated 45 million gallons annually, but may also provide a sales boost for manufacturers.

Mintel explains that with more concentrated detergent, it is easier to use too much – and in 2008, the last time liquid detergents as a whole became more concentrated, ‘overfilling’ created a 5% sales spike.

This makes more concentrated formulations good for sustainability and for sales, but of course it is still important to fit all of the desired information on to the label.

Across the laundry, toiletries and beverages segments, shrink sleeving offers a relatively simple way to get everything on to the label, no matter how big – or small – the bottle itself may be.

washing machines

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The role of wrapping machinery in EU food innovation

Wrapping machinery might not sound like a likely major contributor to innovation in the EU’s food retail sector.

But research published by the European Commission shows the increasingly important role packaging plays in food industry innovation across the continent.

In 2004, the biggest contributors to food innovation in the EU were new flavours and novel products, but this has decreased in the years since.

By 2012, around a third of all innovations in the food retail sector related to the packaging of the product.

Commission vice-president in charge of competition policy Joaquin Almunia said: “European citizens should enjoy good food at affordable prices.

“This study provides important insights and paves the way for future work in these areas.”

Importantly, the study found that new competitors entering the industry always increase choice and innovation, while the massive bargaining power of major retailers does not appear to decrease choice and innovation.

With all this in mind, the correct choice of wrapping machinery may be a more important factor than many new start-ups realise, providing the opportunity to create a distinctive, affordable product that will stand out on retail shelves.

wrapping machinery

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PPMA14 interview with Michael Portillo

We recently attended the PPMA show and our very own director, Malcolm Little, had the pleasure of being interviewed by Michael Portillo, take a look:

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Five consumer factors influence use of wrapping machinery

We often talk about the regulatory and marketing factors that influence your choice of wrapping machinery – such as the need to clearly display ingredients lists or brand messages.

However, customer-focused companies might be keen to closely align their choice of wrapping machinery with the needs of their consumers.

A newly published study in Packaging Technology and Science provides some insight into this, with five separate influences identified.

These include the relationship between the product and its packaging; the context in which it is purchased and used; consumers’ awareness of packages; fashionable influences on packaging; and routines and rituals.

Between them, these five factors span everything from matters of taste to habitual uses of certain types of packaging, to the setting in which products are consumed.

For example, while a novel packaging method might be better for those who understand how to use it, the lack of familiarity could be off-putting for many customers.

In contrast, if such an innovation were closely aligned with fashionable developments, perhaps in another product category or in a wider trend like environmental sustainability, the potential to encourage consumer uptake of the novel package could be greater.

Packaging Technology and Science

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Asking the internet about industrial labelling

It’s always good when your industrial labelling decisions are underpinned by sound market research – but in these modern times, can you just ask your customers directly what they want from your packaging?

The answer, if you have active and engaging social media accounts, might be a resounding yes, but there is still the doubt over whether web users’ opinions on industrial labelling are representative of your customer base as a whole.

Research published in the academic journal Packaging Technology and Science suggests that while web users have valid points to make, it might be worth considering their responses alongside – rather than instead of – any other market research activities you undertake.

In particular, a Finnish team including Markus Joutsela of the Aalto University School of Arts and Virpi Korhonen of the Association of Packaging Technology and Research found that online feedback tends to be broader and less specific.

“The research yielded rich data, even on such a complex issue as the relation of packaging to food loss prevention,” they write.

“However, answers provided by individual participants may remain less grounded and less rich in detail than those elicited with other qualitative methods, such as interviews or focus groups.”

So it seems if you need opinions on your industrial labelling, the web is good for general feedback, while focus groups are – as their name suggests – good for more tightly focused responses.

Packaging Technology and Science

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Sleeving machines offer chance to gain market share in energy drinks segment

Sleeving machines allow you to make the most of the marketing ‘real estate’ on any kind of bottle or similar package, with wraparound labels that are made to fit using shrink sleeving.

This means you can use as much of the surface of the bottle as you want for labelling and branding – and if you are in the sports and energy drinks segment, that could be an important way to gain market share.

According to Mintel, consumers are looking for better information about the nutritional impacts of energy drinks, including safe quantities for consumption per day, and how specific functional ingredients help to keep them awake and alert.

This is at a time when 54% of all Brits claim to frequently feel tired, rising to 60% of women.

David Zhang, research analyst at Mintel, says: “The high proportion of consumers wanting to understand how energy drink ingredients work offers a way for brands to differentiate themselves in the market by highlighting the ingredients used.”

Interestingly, 55% of Brits who buy sports drinks, and 47% who buy energy drinks, say they consume them at home, rather than outdoors or at the gym.

So it is worth making the best use of the opportunities offered to you by shrink sleeving machines – as many of your customers may be in more of a position to study your labels than you realised.

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