According to this year’s FINAT RADAR survey, 83% of brand owners project that label purchase volumes will increase or remain the same in 2021 across all formats, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains.
Meanwhile, 74% of companies anticipate that volumes will increase, despite 46% of firms revealing that they have experienced supply disruptions over the last ten months.
FINAT says that, despite the uncertainty, the outlook for the European narrow web market remains positive. 38% of firms say that they plan to increase procurement volumes between 4% and 6%, and 7% of the companies surveyed suggest volumes could even increase between 7% and 15%.
However, the survey also reveals shifting priorities in light of the pandemic, including a heightened interest in ensuring that supply chains are resilient to shocks. Last year, just 7% of survey participants said that it was important that label vendors have more than one production facility. This year, the same figure has increased to 25%.
The second major indicator of this trend is the surge of interest in the flexibility of digital label presses. Even during the height of lockdown, just 7% of companies reduced digital label spend.
Today, one in three companies specifically identifies events in 2020 as the motivation for sourcing more digitally printed labels, owing to the advantages of shorter lead times and greater assurance of supply chain availability that the technology enables.
The shift to digital is not necessarily entirely shaped by recent events, however, as the survey also reveals other factors that are driving the changes, with the top reasons identified as the ability to print small run sizes as well as improved turnaround time.
But what the survey does show is that fewer buyers are interested in the sort of late-stage customisation options offered by digital printing. It suggests that as the business focus turns towards resilience and reliability, sophisticated marketing campaigns with individualised, unique packaging, play less of a role.
Beyond the pandemic, the survey also reveals a strong continued interest from buyers in maintaining environmental credentials. 75% of companies say that environmental certification is either “important” (49%) or “critical” (26%) to doing business, particularly in food, beverage, health and beauty, and pharmaceutical verticals.