Brand owners seeking successful marketing strategies in a highly competitive marketplace are increasingly turning to digital printing to produce innovative packaging designs.

Digital technologies have substantially disrupted a number of traditionally analog industries (e.g., computers, cameras). Are we at an inflection point today when digital printing can revolutionize the consumer packaging industry? Could digitally printed packaging equipment finally be ready to fulfill the promise of changing the game in consumer packaging? In certain segments, usage of digital equipment for packaging is already compelling (e.g., labels for short-to-midsize run lengths). Beyond those segments, the growth arc for digitally printed packaging is expected to continue to unlock additional segments, creating both an opportunity and a threat for players exposed to analog printing. Nonetheless, the existing barriers to adoption are real, which is expected to drive a more gradual “evolution” of the overall packaging market, rather than a rapid “revolution.”

In this Executive Insights, L.E.K. Consulting looks at if, when and how digitally printed packaging could change the game across labels, cartons, flexible pouches and corrugated containers. Digital printing has the potential to transform the packaging industry, but it will be a marathon, not a sprint.

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