Opportunities for the Printing Industry
Personalized interviews with three microbrands surfaced some key areas where the printing industry is falling short in supporting them. Although their products are diverse, all three brands shared common challenges that can be resolved by observant print providers that are willing to serve as a resource of knowledge as well as provide print services. The three main areas include:
Education. Not all microbrands are thinking about product promotion beyond e-commerce, and in many cases, they don't see the value of printed materials, believing them to be too large an investment. Numerous opportunities exist for the industry to demonstrate how print can amplify a brand’s digital presence and how printers can support overall business growth. For example, Shaidzon Beer Company, a Rhode Island brewer of exceptional craft beers, has struggled to build brand awareness in its locale. FLEXcon and Shaidzon collaborated to brand the FLEXcon trade show booth at the recent Printing United show, and Shaidzon is now in the process of establishing a physical presence in their area. “We were unaware of the myriad options available in pressure-sensitive to build awareness for our brand,” says Chip Samson. “Not having a starting point on how to approach things is a real challenge.”
Simplification of the Process. The same knowledge gap regarding wide format graphics mentioned above exists regarding narrow format labeling and packaging and how they can drive sales through eye-catching packages produced with metalized or holographic label materials or convenience features such as resealable packaging. Microbrands need help navigating the choices. They have needs around package design, sourcing and compliance which align with their brand purpose. For example, HamdAllah Olona, the founder of GoodieKrunch, has struggled with sourcing biodegradable packaging materials. She asks, “If I utilize a packaging material made with rice, what guarantee do I have that the rice won’t leach into my product?” A print provider that can research and source options is critical.
Furthermore, the ability of a printer to provide the right product for the application method is necessary, so collaboration with the brand to understand their needs as they establish themselves and grow is essential. For example, they may be hand-applying labels now while demand is small, requiring a thicker gauged film and/or liner and an adhesive that can be repositioned, but as business grows and they scale up to labels that will be auto-applied, their label specifications will change. Your ability to source and print a product at all stages of their growth, and guide them through such transitions, is imperative and will build trust over the long run.
Invest in true partnership. "Microbrand” does not equal “transactional.” These brands often seek true, consultative partnerships with organizations that recognize their potential and want to help them achieve it. This includes being transparent and being comfortable with saying, “I can’t help you with that piece of the project, but I know who can.” Brenda Feldman of Inchbug was very appreciative when a potential vendor she spoke with at a trade show did that very thing.
Openness like this shows that you really care, and it won’t be forgotten. A microbrand may need only a few signs right now, but as your collaborative efforts yield business gains, the level of business they bring to you, as well as their loyalty, will only grow. Strategic relationships with your suppliers can be integral to adapting to your customers’ changing needs. A trusted supplier can not only scale production as demand changes, they can collaborate with you to problem-solve technical challenges as they arise as well.