Inkjet and Corrugated: A Winning Combination for Brand Owners and Consumers

April 6, 2021

So much has changed over the past year. As we begin to recover from the pandemic’s impact, many aspects of life will start to go back to normal. But experts believe one pandemic change is here to stay: the dramatic increase in online shopping. Today, more people than ever buy products online – even consumers who previously had not shopped online. Digital Commerce 360 reports that e-commerce retail sales were up 44 percent last year. As we begin to return to “normal,” experts believe that consumers will continue to order online and have products delivered at home. In this online shopping world, the package is often the only physical connection a brand has with its customers. Therefore, the box must create – and sustain –positive, personal relationships with customers that keep them coming back for more products.

Reaching Consumers With the Right Kind of Packaging

As more products are shipped directly to consumers, marketers are looking for ways to leverage packaging to build awareness and influence perceptions.nn”More and more, brand owners want colorful, customized, and engaging packaging that creates an emotional “unboxing” experience for their e-commerce customers,” says Oscar Ibarra, senior director, global marketing communications and product marketing at Memjet. “This type of engaging packaging strengthens the customer relationship, builds brand advocates, and often results in new customer referrals.” Research backs up this idea. Ipsos conducted a survey of 2,000 U.S. adults on behalf of the Paper and Packaging Board. The survey revealed that a majority — 72 percent of respondents — believe that the package’s design is a crucial influencer when selecting products to buy. Brand owners believe in the importance of the “unboxing” experience. But they also know it is not always easy to create packaging that evokes that kind of positive response. According to a NAPCO Research survey, 33 percent of brand owners report that creating unboxing excitement for e-commerce sales is a key challenge. Another area of concern for both brand owners and consumers is sustainability. NAPCO research reports that a whopping 75 percent of brand owners say sustainability is a top priority for brands.

Consumers agree. A full 71 percent of the Ipsos survey respondents say they are more likely to buy brands from companies that package their products in paper or cardboard than in other materials.

Corrugated Packaging Meets the Moment

To meet these challenges, many brand owners are turning to corrugated boxes. Corrugated packaging has a strong sustainability story. While other forms of packaging may claim recyclability, corrugated packaging is one with solid recycling infrastructure. Boxes are not only recyclable; they are made from a high percentage of recycled paper, including cartons or newspapers. Moreover, corrugated provides a platform for marketers to create the kind of packaging that connects and builds brand awareness. As a result, the Paper & Packaging Board reports that corrugated boxes are more widely used today than at any other time in their 164-year history.

Inkjet Printing Enhances the Value of Corrugated Packaging

The corrugated packaging segment had traditionally been difficult for print and package providers because it required specialized printing and finishing equipment. But now, advances in inkjet printing are opening up the corrugated packaging segment and solidifying corrugated packaging’s attractiveness for both shipping the product and serving as a marketing tool. As a result, inkjet printing is quickly gaining ground in corrugated printing. A NAPCO Research/Memjet survey of package printers/converters found 56 percent of respondents who print corrugated packaging were printing it on inkjet presses.

This number is significant because while most corrugated packaging volume is printed by flexography, this research indicates package printers/converters are increasingly adding inkjet printing to the production mix.nnInkjet is growing because it is the best way for providers to meet today’s packaging markets’ demands. The NAPCO Research/Memjet survey reports that the ability to print variable images/data and high quality are the top two benefits of printing on an inkjet device. These benefits are closely followed by ease of use, faster print speeds, and lower cost of ownership than other printing methods.

Print and package providers recognize the value of inkjet printing and see the technology as a pivotal way to expand corrugated packaging’s ability to enhance customer experiences and build brand strength.

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