Imaging output providers continue to look to their packaging suppliers for the latest solutions to help them promote and safely protect the digital prints that are increasingly important to their business. PMA reports that 40 percent of the 7.7 billion digital prints to be made in the United States this year will be made at retail stores. That's an increase from 31 percent in 2004. The entire consumer digital printing market is growing, with home printing making up a projected 52 percent of digital prints in 2005.
These new trends have packaging manufacturers retooling their lines in response to retailers' need for versatile packaging solutions that they can employ to help snare a good chunk of the digital print business.
"What we are hearing from our customers and trade show attendees is that the number of prints being produced is increasing from its low point several years ago, but is nowhere near what it used to be prior to the introduction of digital cameras. The need for packaging still exists, but has changed drastically in the last few years," states Larry Rallo, VP of sales and marketing at Noteworthy Photo Packaging.
"Now, labs need packaging to accommodate the occasional order for a very large number of prints from digital. These huge print orders are usually generated by the end-user's accumulation on their media card of vacation or special event photos," adds Rallo. He continues, "many lab owners are looking to new sources of income, such as printing in large format or adding photography studios. Each of these niches generates the need for special packaging, a need that Noteworthy can fulfill with its state of the art technology, talented graphic arts staff and manufacturing know-how."
Noteworthy Photo Packaging (www.noteworthyphoto.com) has expanded its capabilities once again. Noteworthy Photo Packaging has added a paper CD holder with a cellophane window to its extensive line of digital packaging products. This new product is offered at very competitive prices. Retailers can add their logo, name and address in one or two colors for the surprisingly low minimum of only 1,000 pieces.
As Noteworthy moves beyond its 50th Anniversary year, plans are in the works to expand the packaging line even further. Based upon customer feedback at the PMA show in Orlando and its new manufacturing capabilities. Rallo says that exciting new products are already being developed for 2006 and beyond. "The number of independent minilabs has certainly declined tremendously. As evidence of the shifting packaging market, for the first time ever the professional photographers visiting our booth at the PMA in Orlando actually outnumbered the labs. We have adjusted accordingly by continuing to expand our offerings to the pro market while addressing the needs of digital minilab owners as well," he concludes.
"The big trend we are seeing is that most of our customers want to highlight the fact that they can now burn CDs and make prints from digital media. We're seeing more and more labs use their print wallets as an advertising vehicle for those services," reports Kent Dunham, vice president of sales and marketing at Mackay Photopak.
"As far as the prints themselves, many of these customers are able to use the same packaging for prints, regardless of how the images are captured, since most are rendered as 4 x 6-inch images. Digital does introduce special needs, though, to hold the digital media which houses the images, or the CDs customers frequently order as a way of archiving their image files."
Dunham adds that his company is responding to their needs by expanding its "digital stock line" of packaging solutions. As an example, the company recently introduced a new line of CD/DVD holders. At PMA 2005, Mackay Photopak (www.mackayphotopak.com) was showcasing a new stock product to satisfy this growing need, giving consumers a protective envelope to package their digital prints. The envelope and dispenser can be used to protect the prints produced on digital print kiosks. The product known as the Kiosk Pak, measures 4 1/4 x 7 with side gussets, and has a flap with a resealable latex patch. The Kiosk Pak ships 1000 per box with one colorful refillable display dispenser that holds approximately 200 Paks.
Collector's Gallery (www.collectorsgallery.biz) offers a new line of Portrait and Presentation Folders in full-color packaging for their retailers. With nearly twenty years of experience, ongoing market research and retailer feedback; they are identifying a huge sales opportunity with the rise of digital technology. Pam Brock, national sales manager stated, "As consumers become more savvy in producing professional quality images, they're looking for an equally professional way to showcase their prints." Retail packages are available for both horizontal and vertical prints in the three top print sizes 4 x 6, 5 x 7 and 8 x 10. Each package has a suggested retail of $9.95. Brock added, "we believe with the growing presence of digital kiosks and changes in consumer buying habits that there is a huge opportunity for products that focus on how consumers use their photos. With over 100 professional quality folders and folios in stock, we have been a top choice for many retailers. We have always tried to accommodate our customers with small order quantities and a variety of products which satisfy the needs of their customers. Keeping in touch with how a photo image is used is the key to being successful in these changing times," she points out.
Collector's Gallery has consistently manufactured photo insert cards on acid-free paper for use in scrapbooks and to archive photos. Our product packaging focuses on how consumers use their photos. Our photo insert card retail package has been designed in full color to show additional uses as a mat and invitation. We want our packaging and merchandising to motivate a consumer to first purchase the product, but most importantly share and display their photo memories," Brock adds.
The Pro Looking For Solutions
The increased emphasis on digital solutions is also evident in products for the professional photographer. Among the many offerings from Taprell Loomis (www.tap-usa.com) is a Digital Event Multi-Size Folder, which sports and events photographers can use to protect digital print orders produced in a variety of sizes.
"Pro Photographers are producing prints in a greater variety of sizes digitally than they did with photographs, so we wanted to give them one package they could use for all their needs," explains marketing spokesperson Elizabeth Adams. "They're looking for an affordable, convenient way to deliver prints in a greater variety of sizes."
The company recently introduced five Sports Memory Mates. They use dramatic black backgrounds, and feature color illustrations of a "flaming" hockey puck, football, baseball, basketball and softball. The Memory Mates feature player and team photos enhanced with gold foil and embossing.