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  • 05 Jan 2016

Digital differentiation

Nilpeter is a family-run business, and as chief operating officer, Peter Eriksen, along with father Lars, is heavily involved in charting the company’s future direction

Most companies are looking to offer a product or service that adds value to their customers’ bottom line, and at the same time, differentiates its value proposition from the closest competitor. This is a familiar way to remain profitable and secure a future sustainable business platform. Naturally this is easier said than done. Especially in the printing and packaging industry, which is predominantly built by highly innovative forces, and a market that is continuously subject to new technologies and players.

Today’s competition is fierce, and every company has to continuously improve its business model and engage in the lookout for new opportunities. But it is also what makes our industry great and exciting to be part of.

Combination printing is a way to diversify the final product from most others, especially if the number of different processes on the packaging is high and combined with an innovative design. Most labels and packaging are designed for a high level of shelf appeal for which combination printing is widely recognized. The average consumer is more likely to pay a premium price when evaluating a premium looking product.

Differentiation is commonly achieved through offering unique product features, a lower price or excellent customer service. This is not a trend; this is a common requirement in today’s competitive environment for both a label and packaging printer or a press manufacturer like Nilpeter. This is also why I believe that digital will be – or already is – subject to the same requirements as the conventional printing technologies. Digital printing has to be combined with smart, value-adding technologies. Otherwise it will offer little unique value to the brand owner or label printer, and the question of getting the business is not driven by technological features.

Since the mid-1990s, digital printing technology has been flirting with the label market. Our company has been engaged with digital since the very beginning. Today it is a well-proven, accepted technology, and few people will question whether it will continue to gain market share as the technology and cost of ownership develop faster than ever.

Strengths and weaknesses

The time has also come to stop referring to all digital solutions as one common technology. The digital technologies available in the printing market possess different strengths and weaknesses related to the specific market segment. Whether being UV inkjet, electric-photographic or blanket-based digital printing technology, each has its own place in the market based on their different technological and performance character­istics. The segmentation of digital printing will continue to be even more transparent to the label market as the number of digital printing press installations in the market increases. And as the number of distribution channels for the brand owner to choose from becomes higher, the necessity to differentiate from competition becomes more evident.

At Nilpeter, we acknowledge the many benefits digital printing provides. We truly believe in the future of the technology, but not as a complete alternative to conventional printing. It has its own place as a stand-alone printing process, but since this leaves little room for diversi­fication for our customers, we tend to see digital printing as yet another value-adding process in combination printing.

With almost 100 years in the making, Nilpeter is best known for its flexo, offset and combination presses. This is something we are very comfortable with. As a press manufacturer – or solution provider, as we like to call ourselves – we are continuously on the lookout for new technology and products to offer the market. For decades we have designed our products to allow our customers to stand out in the market by combining various printing and converting technologies. And we are continuously amazed to see how innovative printing companies come up with fascinating label designs.

Perhaps it is a tendency, which all people in our industry can identify with, but walking through a supermarket can often take much longer than anticipated! Products are designed to capture the interest of the consumer, and so many talented printers understand, what technology and creativity combined can create.

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