When launching a new brand in custom flexible packaging – food or other consumer packaged goods – it is not uncommon for small brand owners to use a pressure-sensitive label on a stock bag or pouch for package graphics and product information.
As the brand grows and volume increases, a tipping point occurs when the labeling of stock pouches is no longer a viable decorating and product information vehicle. Savvy brand owners aspire to package their product in a printed pouch but the signs that point to the time being right aren’t always clear. Small companies, always mindful of their expenses, find this key decision point in their brand’s growth to be fraught with uncertainty.
So how do you determine when it makes the most sense to transition from using labels to printed bags or pouches? Based on our experience with national, North American and global consumer brands we’ve worked with, from their entrepreneurial beginnings through mass commercialization, here are five tipping points that illustrate the time is right.
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1. THE PRODUCT HAS BEEN DEEMED “PERFECTED” OR WELL REFINED BY BRAND MANAGEMENT.
Most small brands are highly cost conscious and choose to invest as much as possible in the quality of the raw ingredients or the manufacturing process to build the brand rather than allocate cost to a printed pouch. While the quality of the product is of primary importance, package quality runs a very close second. The two are foundationally linked in a symbiotic relationship, and both influence consumer trial, purchase and ultimately preference.
2. THERE ARE CLEAR INDICATIONS OF MARKET PENETRATION AND SUCCESS.
10,000 units. 25,000 units. Even 100,000. The number ranges. Your product is embraced by the market and more and more orders start to arrive. As your sales curve heads north, that’s a good time to think about making the transition. . . for a few reasons. First and foremost, it makes the most professional presentation. It signals quality and it puts you on a level playing field with the bigger brand names; as a highly effective mini-billboard for the brand it gives a consumer “permission” to purchase.
3. TIME IS MONEY . . . AND PRE-PRINTED LABELING TAKES TIME.
Applying pre-printed labels takes time, either time for you and your team, or the time and associated cost of a contract packager, or other resource to complete this task. As product success and volume grow, the “label lag” on a production line becomes an unsustainable and potentially costly proposition. So you can either absorb the ongoing production line cost for applying a label or you can make an investment in a printed pouch. At some volume point that is different for each brand owner, the printed pouch option makes a lot more sense because the economics are “right” and transitioning from a label enhances the consumer’s perception of brand quality.
4. THE BRAND IS BROADENING OUT WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF NEW SKUS.
Here’s where brand managers pause to take stock of their brand’s growth. With the addition of new SKU’s the stage is set for the brand as a whole to really take off. With future success in the balance and subject to so many variables, it’s a smart time to take a close look at the product packaging and the right time to make the move from labels to printed pouches.
5. GROWTH OF THE BRAND OPENS THE DOOR TO NEW CONSIDERATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS.
While you may have started in a grass roots fashion, once that first big order from a major retailer happens, new requirements and considerations kick in, such as “is my current packaging delivering the protection my product requires given the change in distribution channel dynamics?”. Where high performance barrier properties may have once been a secondary consideration, aligning barrier protection properties with the end-to-end time your product spends in the much longer distribution channel is of paramount importance. While protection for a few weeks, a month or even two may have been sufficient, your product could be spending much more time than ever before in trucks and warehouses, This means your packaging’s barrier properties must be up to the new requirements to ensure your product is at its best when the consumer opens your package.
As a converter, we often work with young, growing companies that approach us with issues and concerns about their current packaging meeting changing and more challenging performance standards. So it’s important to remember that whether you’re launching a fledgling brand or positioning one for a market breakthrough, it’s critically important to consult and work with an experienced packaging converter partner. LPS Industries’ decades of experience positions them to understand your unique situation and advise you on the best choices, because stand out printing on the right packaging material can make all the difference.