Your packaging is one of your brands’ most powerful tools. Packaging builds brand awareness, communicates your brand’s message, attracts new customers, and more.
But how can your packaging build your brand? As we get closer to the fall and winter holidays, how can it make your holiday products stand out? What can you do to make all of your special edition products fly off the shelves? And how can you build brand loyalty and consumer interest, with just the design of your packaging?
The answer to all these questions and more is variable data printing (VDP).
Whether you’re looking for a way to differentiate yourself on the shelf, boost consumer engagement, utilize track-and-trace for security and/or authentication reasons, or even improve your supply chain, digital print technology can help take your brand to the next level. With the help of variable data printing, brands of all sizes can easily take advantage of a variety of different technologies.
In this post, we’re going to dive into:
- What is variable data printing and how does it work?
- The different types of variable data printing solutions: both design-based solutions and track-and-trace/consumer engagement based solutions.
- How brands can utilize each of the solutions.
So how does variable data printing work?
VDP is a form of digital printing that uses information from a database or external file. With VDP, elements such as text, graphics, and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process. There are no printing plates, so it’s just as simple to print one SKU, or design, in a print run as it is to print 10,000 unique designs.
Variable data printing helps consumer brands take an innovative and unique approach to their packaging, both with design and consumer engagement. There are many ways to utilize VDP and we’re discussing just a few of those options below:
Variable Data Printing: Design Options
It’s no secret that today’s consumers love personalization and customization. Consumers respond to variety in their products, be it flavors, colors, designs or package sizes. With digital printing and VDP, you can easily create a variety of package options all in the same run — whether it be personalized packaging or seasonal packaging with unique design features that shift and change from package to package.
VDP can help brands create product differentiation across the whole package line-up. Think of the popular Coca-Cola campaign with the different bottle labels printed with various names on each. This is created using variable data printing. Each label features a different design, and the process is not slowed as each unique label is printed.
Source: Coca Cola
There are other design solutions that create randomized designs on each package for a unique experience. At ePac, we leverage HP’s two different technologies to create highly customized designs: mosaic and collage.
With mosaic, there is one seed pattern (or file) that is automatically randomized to print a unique design on each package printed. It works by rotating, zooming, and transposing the colors of that file to create individual designs. Skratch Labs, a Boulder-based nutritional supplement brand, teamed up with ePac to use the HP Mosaic technology to create 10,000 unique pouches for the EF Education First Cycling Team in celebration of the teams’ involvement in The Tour. Click here to read the full story.
Collage automatically randomizes too but differs in that you can control various elements, so that there is some consistency on each package. Both deliver highly visual, entirely unique packaging for each SKU in the run.
Image Source: HP
Variable Data Printing: Interactive Options
The next four solutions are interactive solutions that use unique digital identities, such as a visible QR code or hidden watermark. These marks allow brands to securely track individual products throughout the entire supply chain, and provide customized digital experiences to individual consumers through a mobile interface. These track-and-trace solutions give each product its own special number so brands can associate specific data to a specific package.
Want to increase consumer engagement with the help of your packaging? Using VDP, you’ll be able to print a unique QR code on each package that will take consumers to a specific location, like a webpage or video. There, they can view a recipe, video message, promotion, product instructions, or play a game… the options here are endless.
For brands looking to highlight a product’s authentication or sourcing information, a QR code can be used on the package to deliver detailed information unique to that individual item. Things like a product verification page, to confirm the authenticity of the product, or a page highlighting where and when it was produced, as well as batch number, manufacturing location and date/time. This also allows consumers to trace a specific product’s journey, from ingredient sourcing to retail.
Interactive Recycling Instructions
With interactive recycling instructions, you’re helping consumers learn how and where to recycle your product. The consumer would scan the QR code on the package and go to a webpage or video highlighting information on how to recycle the product. You can also include a rewards program to incentivize consumers to participate.
Supply Chain Analytics
While the other four solutions are consumer-facing solutions, the fifth one is brand facing, meaning the code is meant for you, the brand owner, not the consumer. With supply chain analytics, you’ll have real-time supply chain data, business intelligence, and anti-counterfeit/diversion intelligence. With this solution, you can capture data at the point of purchase, as well as information from when it was scanned at the warehouse to distribution, all the way to retail. This will enable you to see where the package is and whether it went to the appropriate places. This is all captured and conveyed in an analytics dashboard. Plus, you have the ability to capture consumer data to build a consumer profile, to better understand their purchase habits.
Variable data printing allows you to track the lifecycle of each package that you produce, from where it moves within the warehouse and distribution chain, to how consumers engage with it, and even where it ends up in the recycling stream. You’ll also enjoy endless personalization and differentiation options to create packaging that is as unique as each of your consumers. Plus, you’ll create an engaging experience from a mobile interface, all in your consumers’ hands.
Partnering with a Digital Printer for Your VDP Project
Variable data imaging and printing are only available with digital printing. With digital printing at ePac, consumers enjoy all of the solutions VDP has to offer, plus low minimum orders and fast turnaround time. This allows you to be more reactive to market trends, and create personalized or unique packaging for different regions, consumer demographics, or seasons and holidays. At ePac, we can help you with variable data printing services so you can have the right package functionality that your brand needs. Contact us today for a free quote.