Inflation Is Hitting Every Manufacturing Sector

Everyone is feeling the pain of inflation from rising prices in goods, materials, chemicals, fuel, and supplies. Whether you serve B2B/B2C every sector is experiencing the avalanche from inflation, supply chain disruptions, Covid19, labor shortages, and a lack of available materials. A trip to the grocery store with empty shelves or purchase limits on certain products is proof enough. It is cliche, but all of these factors have produced the “perfect storm”.

Manufacturers are scrambling to find new supply lines and vendors. Shortages from food, chemicals, lumber, metals, microchips, rubber goods, paper, laminates, and countless other goods have moved businesses from a competitive price focus to sheer availability. Shortages and availability only tighten the vise grip of competing manufacturers. Auto manufacturers are now competing with consumer electronics for computer chips. Before the storm, each had different suppliers and there was no shortage. During the storm, you may produce cars, but your computer or television producer has landed in your backyard competing for the same chips.

The printing and packaging industry is not immune to this economic reality. The supply chain gridlock and inflationary pressures have created a challenging environment for the industry. Previously fully stocked vendor’s distribution centers of paper, ink, boxes, laminate, substrate materials, and film are running empty. Lead times of these materials have drastically expanded. Shipping costs due to rising fuel prices and container shortages have only added to the inflationary pressures. These dynamics are unique because the combination of factors has impacted every aspect of business regardless of category. In the past, Wall Street cycles have come and gone, but typically it’s been one industry or just a few that have experienced serious disruption and challenges. Today, EVERY industry and business is affected by these colliding factors.

The interdependency within the global economy can best be explained by dominoes falling one over the other throughout a massive display. Everything relates to the other. Loaded ships sit in harbors and can’t get unloaded, a pandemic wiped out 700,000 people in the U.S. alone to date. Many of those were workers and paying taxes. The printing and packaging industry is experiencing supply and material increases between 7-12%, if not more. Polypropylene resin has increased 150% since January of 2020, and PET resin has risen over 20% in the same period (CDI October 2021 Report). Some Industry experts are projecting continued shortages of raw material and polymers to last through Q4 2022.

No reputable and successful business enjoys price increases. Their success is built upon providing a high-quality product/service at a competitive price backed with extraordinary customer service. These companies thrive on long-term customer relationships by exceeding customer expectations. However, there is a point at which even the strongest cannot resist anymore because they start losing money.

Craig Austin writing for PBS said: “Economists surveyed by Bloomberg in October expect inflation to slow to 3.4% next summer and hit 2.6% by the end of the year. While that would be encouraging, it’s still well above the pre-pandemic average of 1.8% and outside the Fed’s target. It’s unclear whether economists are recalibrating their expectations after the October Consumer Price Index report. Regardless, consumers should get used to the higher prices. They’re the new normal.”

Smart companies and businesses are concentrating on minimizing price increases while extending their vendor partnerships to have access to the materials and supplies they need to do their jobs. Increased costs are inevitable given the global market, but smart and reputable suppliers and manufacturers are working with their clients and suppliers to keep prices as low as they can. Material and supply shortages can be expected well into 2022. Plan way ahead to get ahead of this troubling trend. Hopefully, supply, logistics, and labor will self-correct in 2022.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have worked internally to increase efficiency and deliver the same high level of quality that helped us earn our customer’s trust during these challenging days. This combination has allowed us to only raise prices on products once this year. We are well aware of the market fluctuations and we are working with our customers and suppliers to provide solutions despite price increases to supply and rising material costs. We have been printing labels that stick, but have great eye appeal and consistently tell your brand story. We don’t mind tackling a challenging problem if it means we can help you produce something that is more appealing and of higher quality. We have produced labels and packaging for almost 25 years, so trust us to work with you as a partner instead of a job number.

Ben Waldrop, President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
Tel: 800.344.7509

Finish Matters in Product Presentation

One of the most important considerations for product labeling is the finish. There are many options within the printing process that need to be considered for your product or brand. Product label finishes depend on the target audience. Is your product B2B or B2C? Is it within a highly competitive retail or wholesale market? Is it a “tried and true” iconic brand, or is it a new product launch? All of these are important considerations when it comes to settling on a label finish for the product.

The two dominant finishes are matte and glossy. One is shiny, vibrant and the other is muted. Both of them provide value depending upon the specific product label, market, and target audience. However, you can add varnishes to each finish to get a very distinct look. Retail shelf appeal is so important today. Your product may be getting lost in the eye-candy game simply because of the finish of your label. If you have a new product for the market the finish selection is critical so your product will stand out against the competition at retail locations.

The material printers use (film/paper) can be semi-gloss, high gloss, or matte, but varnishes can add a distinctive look and set your product apart from the competition. Depending on the product category you will want to make sure you have the right “look and feel” for your product. Glossy is vibrant, but if the competition is all glossy you could choose a matte finish to stand out from the crowd. Let’s face it, standing out from the competition is paramount in reaching consumers in today’s market.

Reputable printers and packaging companies want to provide exactly what their customers want, but they are also subject matter experts in printing, finishes, and the look and feel of specific products. Relying on your printer’s input is invaluable. And don’t overlook the advantage of test runs to consider a variety of finish options for your product. This is an area where you want to get it right the first time and if that means running test options ahead of your final decision you are making the right call. These professional printers want to exceed customer expectations, but in order to do so, they need to explore options for each customer.

Your printer can add a varnish or laminate to the surface to change the look, feel, and texture of the product. In several product categories the competition is all glossy and having a matte finish makes the product stand out on the shelf.

Retro finishes are having a lot of success in the marketplace. Why? Because they stand out from the crowd. It’s a different look and feel. In competitive markets, many customers go for a glossy look. With varnishes, you can mix and match. You can have a part gloss and part matte finish using two different types of varnish. You can’t do this with a laminate finish because it has to cover the entire label surface.

Choosing a finish for your product label and packaging is incredibly important in today’s competitive marketplace. Your printing vendor should be more than able and willing to provide a variety of options. Focus groups are a great way to gain insight into product finishes in terms of look, feel, and attraction. Over the years many great products have died an early death due to finish failure and a lack of shelf appeal to the consumer. Having multiple options through test runs is a great way to gain insight into potential consumer reactions to a new product. If the competition is going all glossy in their finishes, consider a very distinct matte finish to pop your product on the shelf.

For example, today’s craft beer market is incredibly competitive. Being seen from the variety of choices available has never been greater. Having high-performing packaging and labels is critical to retail appeal. There is a greater appeal today for matte finishes versus gloss but it depends on the product market and the competition.

If you are shopping or looking for a printer ask them to provide examples in similar product categories of their work. Spend the time in graphic design and artwork to explore multiple options. Get feedback from focal groups, your team, and as many people as possible before you make a final decision. Listen to your printing and packaging company! They have years of experience in producing labels, finishes, and packaging. You are the subject matter expert of your specific product, but they are subject matter experts in the final finish of your product label and packaging. The bottom line in your final retail or wholesale product presentation is that your finish matters!

At Century Printing & Packaging we have been printing labels that stick, but have great eye appeal and consistently tell your brand story. We don’t mind tackling a challenging problem if it means we can help you produce something that is more appealing and of higher quality. We have produced labels and packaging for 25 years, so trust us to work with you as a partner instead of a job number.

Ben Waldrop, President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC
Tel: 800.344.7509

Craft Breweries Emerging from COVID-19

Like many industries, the craft brewery business has suffered from Covid19. As many parts of the country begin to reopen and indoor gathering rules are relaxed the industry is finding casualties that just couldn’t survive, but also a surge in creativity and innovation.

Many breweries have taprooms or restaurants that were closed for weeks and even months during the pandemic. Waiters, servers, cooks, bartenders were furloughed or terminated because there was no income/revenue to support them. Others forged ahead and supported their employees the best they could with PPP funds and other resources from the CARES Act.

No industry in the U.S. has been untouched by the economic scourge of Covid19. Record unemployment levels and a full-blown recession are still challenging small businesses like independent, family-owned, regional craft breweries.

Unlike major breweries, independent craft breweries typically don’t have large cash reserves or production quantities that can offset these challenges. Like most small businesses these breweries view their employees as a family which makes decisions even more difficult against economic realities.

The Brewers Association has conducted a series of surveys/polls of their membership during and after “stay at home” orders by state governors. Economist Bert Watson has been analyzing and interpreting the data for the month of May:

“In terms of volume growth, results are similar to what we found in early April, with a weighted estimate of total brewery sales down 30.5%. The median brewery respondent has sales that are down 50%. Note that while we had representative participation, the volume above 100,000 was far less than it is as a percentage of the full data set, so accounting for that would likely improve the total number, and I think it’s likely that if we use this survey to build a broader estimate, the total craft is likely down more like 20-25%…….Although we haven’t yet reached the three-month threshold we asked about in that survey, there has yet to be a massive surge in brewery closures. Yes, some breweries have closed, but to date, the vast majority of breweries have managed to stay in business.” (3rd Covid19 Impact Study-850 craft breweries participated)

Few small businesses can survive reduced sales of 25-50%, but through perseverance, loans, strong business plans, and creative strategies the majority have been able to tread water and are starting to float again. There are more than 8,000 craft breweries in the U.S. employing nearly 60,000 Americans. In 2018 the economic impact of craft breweries on the U.S. economy was $79B. The industry provides jobs, tax revenue for the U.S, states, and local governments.

During the pandemic closing tap and tasting rooms was a big blow, but many brewers got creative and produced hand sanitizer and drinking water for local essential industries and first responders. Others pivoted to curbside pick up and delivery which has been allowed in many states.

Sales continue to lag but there’s cautious optimism as restaurants, bars, and indoor dining resumes. Many brewers have used this time to strategically plan for the future including their marketing efforts. Intentionally examining artwork, design, logos, and brand messaging. Creative packaging and labels that stand out from the pack are critical now more than ever.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have been answering the call for craft breweries and distilleries in terms of high-performance labels and packaging. We are investing in the industry and learning all we can about your printing and packaging needs. We have innovative products designed specifically for craft breweries. As a small, family, and locally owned business we understand just how challenging Covid19 has been for small businesses and the overall economy. Contact us today to discuss your unique printing and packaging needs!

Ben Waldrop
President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
800.344.7509

(Images: Unsplash & CP&P)

Unhinge Your Brand™ with a Story-Label™

Behind every craft beer, there is a great story. Whether it’s tied to its indigenous roots/origin and how it all got started, the type of beer (IPA, stout, lager, wheat, etc.), its community of origin, family-owned, employee-owned or how the name came about there is a story waiting to be told.

Nothing communicates or resonates with consumers and customers like a story. Every person, town, company, product, sports team, family, and friend has a story to tell. Unfortunately telling your story on a product label can be an insurmountable challenge because of space limitations. You spend a lot of money, research, time and energy developing an eye-catching label to go on a great product, but due to legal labeling requirements (nutrition information, alcohol percentage, place of origin, etc.,), you have to give up much-needed space to tell your story and promote your brand.

But what if there was a label that would meet the legal requirements for craft beer and offer twice the space to tell your story? Imagine if you could “unhinge your brand™” with a Story-Label™ and provide a personal touch for consumers. You can! Century Printing and Packaging in Greer, SC, has created such a label.

This groundbreaking innovative label provides craft breweries with more space to tell their story. Imagine a consumer sitting at home, or in a bar with your beer and being able to fold out the beer label and discover your story. For example, let’s say there was a craft brewery in Elberton, Georgia (known for its granite) called “Granite Brewing”. Their product was born out of the rich history of granite from North Georgia. It could tell the story of Elberton and the surrounding areas rich in granite promoting a strong craft beer, bold taste, and locally owned. You get the idea.

These high-quality labels perform in cold and wet conditions. Century has built a strong reputation for dependable, durable, and high performing craft beer labels, nutraceuticals, CBD oil labels, etc. The flexographic labels ensure stunning colors and graphic details of your product stand out from the competition. Because the plates are made in-house the turn around time for these cutting-edge labels is fast whether you are running a few thousand or several hundred thousand. The ink used in the process is a proven water-based product that is environmentally friendly. This is a craft beer label like no other.

The Story-Label™ is a powerful customized brand marketing tool that allows you to provide engaging content for consumers and attract a bigger following for your product. What if you could feature your employees on different labels like your Master Brewer, the owner, and their family story, or something funny? What if your craft beer has a cool brand play with a mascot like a parrot, or bulldog? You could feature the story of the mascot with unique content about your brewery.

The label is like a door on hinges. You can “unhinge your brand™” and tell your story when the consumer opens it. Imagine gathering a loyal following of your labels being collected and posted in man-caves, garages, or collected like bottle caps, or cans. Your fall (Octoberfest, Harvest) or summer seasonal brew could be promoted in a way like never before. The possibilities are endless for creating engaging content driving your brand for consumers and building a loyal following.

Ben Waldrop, President
Century Printing & Packaging
800.344.7509
Email: benw@cpandp.com

Craft Beer Labels & Packaging: Why You Need to Stand Out Now

An out of town attorney trying a case in an old courthouse for the first time made several observations about the grand old building while representing his client. After a break in the proceedings the judge invited the well-known lawyer and newcomer to see him in his chambers. He greeted the attorney and asked him how he liked the historic courthouse. The attorney told him it was a beautiful old specimen, but it needed work. The judge asked him what was wrong. The highly respected lawyer noted the warped wooden floors, a loose banister, unsightly restrooms, an old HVAC system that was struggling, the sound system was over 25 years old, and he noted the difficulty for those with disabilities entering the building and struggling to get to the upstairs courtrooms.

The judge told the newcomer he had no idea. The attorney responded that we all get comfortable until a new pair of eyes come to our home and observe things that nostalgic natives don’t ever notice because they’ve grown accustomed to them. The judge took out a legal pad and wrote down the observations and asked the lawyer to offer more while he was in town so he could send them to the town council. Packaging is the same! You can think your product label, or package is appealing, but at the end of the day it may just be that old courthouse and walks by it because they grew accustomed to it.

In a recent article for the Brewers Association Justin Kendall quotes its chief economic officer:

“In a world of intense competition, marketing and branding is more important than ever,” said Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist. Speaking at the Beer Marketing and Tourism Conference last week in St. Petersburg, Florida, Watson also addressed changing consumer habits around beer tourism as part of the growing need to differentiate.

According to Watson, an average of two breweries open daily, and there are now 11,500 brewery permits filed with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which he said has historically been a strong indicator of the brewery count over the next two years.

“Anyone who thinks this explosion in the number of breweries is going to end sometime soon, I think they’re deluding themselves,” he said. “It’s going to end at some point, but most of the data suggests we’re not there yet and that there are a lot of breweries going to open. And some of these are second locations.”

There are approximately 8,000 breweries in America and that number keeps growing every day.

As more and more craft beer products hit the market consumers are flooded with choices. Of course you need to have a very special tasting product to create demand, but equally important is how you dress your beer. The days of having a lazy beer label, or packaging are over. The competition is too steep and with the advent of more wineries and craft distillers the market share is shrinking.

How do you plan to stand out among the competition? It’s critical that you have a great label and packaging design, but beyond that you’ve got to have one that performs. You can’t afford to have a great label that slides off the bottle in cold and wet environments. Nor can you tolerate a carton that bleeds colors inside a beer cooler just when you need it to shine for the consumer.

Now more than ever it’s important for craft brewers to have catchy, creative designed labels that attract consumers and perform whether it’s cans, 6-pack packaging, or bottles. Your label can set you apart from the competition or make you disappear into a sea competition. It’s incredibly important that you engage a label printer and packaging company that understands the industry and the importance of shelf appeal and market performance. It’s not a one size fits all market anymore.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have been answering the call for craft breweries and distilleries in terms of high performance labels and packaging. We are investing in the industry and learning all we can about your printing and packaging needs. Contact us today!

Ben Waldrop
President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
800.344.7509