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Viewpoint – Lars Scheidweiler

Lars Scheidweiler, product group manager for Rigid Packaging at Sappi Fine Paper Europe, talks to Converting Today about packaging design and the skilled use of finishing techniques – “when packaging seduces the senses”

For a product to sell well, the packaging needs to appeal to all the senses. Only then can the product break through in an over-saturated market and be differentiated from comparable products. Packaging that seduces customers emotionally, making skilled use of a variety of print finishing techniques, elicits the ‘wow’ factor and achieves success.

This is a trend that all parties in the packaging supply chain are increasingly focused on in today’s fast paced and highly competitive market. There is no doubt that the buying decision is heavily influenced by the packaging – as confirmed again and again in consumer surveys.

This leads us to the conclusion that consumers ultimately are more likely to buy a product when the packaging speaks to them on an emotional, visual and tactile level. This is also the reason that package design is — and will remain — such an exciting and lucrative sector for packaging converters, designers, brand-owners, paper manufacturers, printers and print finishers.

But it also means that demands on substrates to deliver high quality and support versatile printing and finishing options are on the rise. Bright white cellulose cartons, for which Sappi is known, are now regarded as the ideal carrier to achieve successful market positioning, especially when combined with sophisticated printing and finishing techniques. These elements deliver the multi-sensory impact in packaging that will gain greater attention from consumers, and differentiate the product.

Finishing effects
Packs are most likely to benefit from the ‘wow’ factor, when striking finishing effects make them look like the product they contain, or when the pack feels so real because of its visual or tactile effects. Unexpected effects and unusual material combinations also add to the attraction. While these add cost and time to the production process, the value they deliver on the shelf is well worth the extra investment.

Just ask German finishing company the Achilles Group, a long term Sappi customer. It reports that demand from brand-owners for relief printing has increased by about 60% over the past two years, closely followed by growing demand for scratch-proof and other structural foils with mini-embossing, hotfoil embossing in gold, and silver lamination.

What has really exploded at Achilles is the demand for the relatively new technique of "soft touch" finishing, for a very special tactile and sensual experience. Certain varnishes or special foils will cause the surface to feel velvety and soft.

Achilles has been able to determine the effect of the individual finishing techniques by target demographic. For men aged between 18-30, textured varnish combined with relief varnish dominate; whereas for women of the same age, glittering effects, fluorescent colours and partial flocking effects draw the most attention. For this age group, special effect finishes are also popular. These include soft touch foils, structured foils and blind embossing.

The fact is, consumers young and old are drawn to packaging that is more than just smooth paper.

Board selection
The final effect of the finishing work depends heavily on the choice of cartonboard. The first consideration is whether the carton is actually suitable for all of the above finishing techniques, and whether complex embossed areas can be optimally reproduced. It is also important to understand how the board responds to the application of special inks and varnishes. Increasingly, brand-owners are looking to integrate brand trademarks for unique identification of a product on the carton, which often requires special inks.

Finally, how does the carton behave in production? Is it suitable for production at higher speeds and is it amenable to rapid job changeovers? What materials are used in manufacturing the cartonboard?

Cartonboard used in the high quality printing and packaging sector must be able to meet all of these requirements. The quality of the surface affects the printing, varnish and embossing characteristics, as well as contrast, glossiness of the finish and readability. The ability to successfully use hotfoil stamping, coldfoil transfer, a high level of ink rub-off resistance, and the ability to undergo other sophisticated processing techniques without damaging the board also depend on the surface quality.

The fibre content of the carton – whether mechanical or chemical, wood-based or wood-free, short or long fibres – also affects its performance, including yellowing, opacity, rigidity, crack resistance, tensile strength, elasticity and dimensional stability. Ultimately, the weight of the board determines the processing characteristics, surface feel, rigidity and opacity, as well as the ability of the packaging to adequately protect the product.

Sappi cellulose cartonboard is made from virgin fibres as the ideal carrier material and guarantees maximum precision, value and consistent quality. The high quality of the range of boards, their look and feel, and bright white finish and consistent surface result in clearer, livelier printed images and ensure optimum contrast, while at the same time giving an impression of greater space.

This has a positive effect on the consumer’s perception by providing a visible representation of the quality of the brand, increasing both consumer acceptance and brand recognition. Sappi’s board Algro Design is the first choice when it comes to printability and virtually limitless processing options.

The author’s views expressed on this page may not be shared by this publication