To go digital or not, that is the question. Changes in one industry often prompt changes in other industries - a process occurring at this very moment. Companies like Heineken and Coca-Cola are offering their customers a chance to design their own packaging to reflect personal interests, an idea that will no doubt have the printing industry taking note.
When a major player like Coke says Sprite drinkers can design can sleeves to match their interests, it will probably only be a matter of time before other companies do the same. How can companies change their packaging so quickly? The answer is digital printing. Many printers are already offering digital business cards, but this is only the start of the possibilities opened up.
It represents a challenge for the printing industry, because packaging has traditionally been done using the offset method. However, digital printing projects can be changed more readily, making them the natural choice for this new type of marketing.
Adding digital capabilities to a traditional print shop means an investment in digital equipment, and some in the industry would like to wait and see if the idea of rapidly changing packaging continues to be used at the current rate. While there are opinions on both sides, the majority opinion seems to be that this is an exciting idea that greatly appeals to consumers and will rapidly enter the mainstream.
Whether they add digital capabilities immediately or not, it would seem prudent that printers at least start researching this trend. Since many printers are now familiar with digital business cards, they will not be forced to ‘start from scratch’ if they choose to expand their offerings.