How Digital Printing is Disrupting the Packaging Industry

How Digital Printing is Disrupting the Packaging Industry | Pel Hughes

From a relatively contemporary standpoint, the packaging industry began to flourish with the introduction of metal packaging in the early 1800’s. Since then, several technologies have disrupted the industry, from polyethylene, to cardboard, to plastics. Today, it’s digital printing that is changing the way the packaging industry operates.

When you consider the mass consumerization of today’s society, it’s becomes clear how significant the packaging industry is in modern economics. According to a recent publication in Business Wire, the packaging industry in the United States is expected to grow at a consumer annual growth rate of 4.1% from 2019 – 2024. The most successful packaging companies will leverage this growth to establish or continue their brand recognition, connect their tangible product with their digital operations, and promote environmental sustainability. 


Access to Digital Content 

Digitalization and access to the “internet of things” is one of the most significant trends that is projected to change the packaging industry over the next ten years. This should come as no surprise. With virtually everyone having access to a smartphone, the most efficient method of marketing a brand is by bringing the consumer online. 

Digital printing allows companies to do this by adding links or QR codes, linking consumers to endless digital content. Once the digital connection is made, companies can leverage this online channel to feed customized promotions to buyers. In a similar vein, digital printing affords companies the ability to provide consumers with easy ways to access their apps and continue digital marketing.   


Design and Customization 

The shopping experience is more than just purchasing a product. Consumers are purchasing a brand and seek personalized products that link the brand to their lifestyles, opinions and beliefs. Companies are recognizing that as the packaging industry grows, they must tailor their packaging in ways that speak directly to their consumers. 

A recent study by Transparency Market Research shows that the market for personal packaging was valued at $25.6 billion in 2017, and is projected to reach $38.1 billion by 2025. Digital printing offers the easiest and most cost-effective method of customizing a package to meet the expectations of consumers in this market. 

With digital printing, companies can quickly print customized labels or messages on their product at a low cost. Moreover, digital printing allows marketing teams to switch up their designs frequently and mass print them in a more cost-effective way than was previously available, such as offset printing.  



As we mentioned above, the packaging industry is expected to continue growth at a significant pace. One of the largest trends within this expansion is sustainable packaging. As consumers become more aware of their environmental impact, the more interested they are in how companies are adapting sustainable packaging initiatives. According to a report from Smithers Pira, sustainable packaging is projected to be the number one challenge facing companies by 2023, becoming even more important than reducing costs. Digital printing offers one of the best methods for the environmentally friendly company. 

Sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging is more than just using recycled materials. It’s about improving the production process so that the entire supply chain is sustainable. Digital printing is a more sustainable method for creating packaging than using recycled or renewably sourced materials because it reduces waste produced during the printing process. 

Digital printing doesn’t require the creation and use of printing plates, and it uses four times less ink. Moreover, because digital printing allows companies to print small quantities faster and cheaper, it reduces excess inventory that becomes obsolete or no longer usable. When this is all put together, digital printing has a 30% lower carbon footprint than traditional methods. 

Over the past decade, digital printing has become the accepted standard for packaging converters. The ability of companies to integrate digital content into packaging, customize their message to consumers, and offer sustainable and environmentally sound practices into their packages means that it will continue to disrupt the packaging industry.