NEC show works hard to profile the future of packaging

Sharp Iris won over the judges of the Lion’s Lair competition with a service allowing consumers to personalise their packaging

THE Packaging Innovations show drew 6004 unique visitors through the doors of the NEC on 26 and 27 February, an 18 percent increase on last year.

Among the exhibitors was Mark Baker-Homes of Intec Printing Solutions, who remarked: “It’s refreshing to see so much interest and demand for the packaging and labelling market. We had blue chip companies coming onto the stand, but also start-ups looking to get into packaging with genuine enthusiasm, which is great to see.”
The event included a two-day free-to-attend seminar programme, with speakers from DHL Supply Chain, Iceland Foods, The Barts Ingredients Co, Recoup, Marks and Spencer, Wilkinson, Tesco, and Oloves.
Topping the bill was packaging elder statesman Lars Wallentin, founder of, who spoke of the need for packaging to speak directly: “Your brand’s positioning determines what you are going to do. Clear positioning will help you define that ‘big idea’, otherwise you are only selling on price. Whatever we do – whether it’s telling a story through packaging or creating an opening ritual, such as Corona and lime or Oreo with its twist, lick, dunk ritual – it’s important to create a synergy between the brand and the consumer. In the world of packaging where creativity is endless, it’s essential to communicate your message, rather than using your logo to sell. Change the information on your packaging into real communication.”
In addition, the show featured the Big Print Debate (see report on page 5) and The Big Packaging Debate, where over 100 visitors gathered to hear a panel of packaging experts discuss: “Packaging – designed for the consumer or the supply chain?”
This year’s panel, chaired by Kevin Vyse and including representatives from Echo Brand Design, DHL Packaging Services Europe, Alliance Boots and The Consumer Voice, held the general opinion that the supply chain may well be increasing in complexity, but so are consumers’ lives and the way we market to them. Perhaps there is a general need for packaging to reflect in-store and online demands more simply, with there being a real opportunity to reduce secondary packaging. Continuing to educate the consumer about the possibilities of reusing or refilling a product, rather than recycling, was also an underlying theme.
The Lion’s Lair competition gave four companies an opportunity to pitch their most innovative products to a panel of fierce judges.
Taking personalisation to the next level was Sharp Iris (see photo, above), which won the judges over with a new service, Smartflow. It works by creating printable artwork featuring various changeable details, including images, names and messages. Consumers can order a product, personalise their packaging and receive it direct to their door.
• The next Packaging Innovations event takes place at the Business Design Centre in London on 30 September and 1 October.