3 Factors Behind Proliferation of Shrink Sleeve Packaging

Stretch and shrink sleeve labels have boosted the versatility of conveying brand and safety messaging for packaging designers and brand owners. Here are the three reasons why these labels are being seen as more effective than other types of packaging labeling and decoration.

Stretch and shrink packaging sleeves have grown over the previous decade to capture around 12.5 percent by area of the global label markets.

Global stretch and shrink sleeve consumption volume reached 6.4 million square meters in 2013 and is growing faster than the sleeve market as a whole. Consumption will grow 5.6 percent to reach 8.4 million square meters by 2019. The global market covers shrink sleeve packaging, stretch sleeve packaging, and roll-on and shrink-on labels and stretch sleeves.
Sleeve label demand is driven largely by the advantages the sleeves give to packaged product owners in terms of marketing and brand identity via the on-the-shelf visual appeal to consumers. New developments in packaging films and manufacturing processes are also improving the quality and definition of sleeve labels on a continual basis.

Other market drivers for sleeve labels include economic influences, consumer demand for convenience products, and evolving retail trends. What makes stretch and shrink sleeve labels so effective, behind their market growth?

  1. Brand IdentityWhat separates sleeves from most other types of labeling and packaging decoration is its cost-effective method of decorating containers with highly complex shapes. They may also enable the wall thicknesses of plastics and glass containers to be reduced, eliminate the need for colored containers, and provide new types of promotional opportunities.

    Heat-shrink labels can smoothly cover package contours that would be difficult for standard adhesive labels. Given the growing popularity of sleek, curvaceous beverage bottles designs, this is an important advantage for sleeve labels and is helping the penetration of shrink sleeves in the global market.

    Sleeve labels have an advantage over conventional label types when it comes to making a product stand out to consumers. A sleeve label can be applied to a package in a variety of different ways, from covering just the shoulders or the cap of a container to full-body, 360-degree coverage.

    The extra coverage provided by full-body shrink sleeves allows space for colorful and eye-catching designs. Full-body sleeves provide larger areas for product and brand owners to communicate with both current and prospective customers. With tight labeling regulations for food and pharmaceutical products either in place or on the way, having this extra space to conform to regulatory standards while also maintaining a product’s ability to reach out to consumers will only become more important over time.

  2. On-Shelf ImpactEastman Chemical Co. in 2011 commissioned AC Nielsen to conduct a study of 800 consumers in order to understand consumer preferences for label formats, isolating the effect of shrink labels and quantifying the value of a package. The study confirmed the on-shelf effectiveness of, and preference for, high-contour bottles featuring shrink sleeve labels. The study also demonstrated that shrink sleeve labels create stronger emotional connections than traditional labels and act as a key influencer of initial product trials and long-term sales among consumers.

    While shrink sleeve labels extend packaging aesthetics and expand design potential, research suggests that consumers can perceive them as a relatively expensive label type. This causes them to suspect unnecessarily heightened product costs. However, shrink sleeve labels provide secondary, unseen savings by allowing brand owners to eliminate tamper-evident drop bands, remove the need for colorants from closures and bottles, and reduce or eliminate UV inhibitors in packaging.

    Brand owners and packaging suppliers should consider total package value, both when spurring on consumers to try a new product and when building upon established brand loyalty.

  3. Practical AdvantagesSleeve labels also offer advantages in the more practical aspects of packaging design. For example, pre-formed shrink film bands, which are manufactured to fit particular container shapes without the need for custom design, can be attached to container caps to provide a protective, tamper-evident seal.

    Whether they are for food or beverage products or for more safety-critical pharmaceutical products, pre-formed bands are a simple way of informing customers whether there has been tampering with a product. These bands can be perforated for easy access as well as to allow printed safety text.

    For example, CCL Label, a converter of pressure-sensitive and extruded film materials for a wide range of decorative, instructional, and functional applications that include packaging, based near Princeton, N.J., launched an easy-to-open shrink sleeve paired with a tamper-evident seal in 2012. The easy-opening label covers the necks and tops of bottles and comparable containers for food, cosmetics, and hygiene products.

Smithers Pira is the worldwide authority on packaging, paper and print industry supply chains. Established in 1930, the company provides strategic and technical consulting, testing, intelligence, and events to help clients gain market insights, identify opportunities, evaluate product performance, and manage compliance. To find out more about the stretch and shrink sleeve market, Smithers Pira has published the report, “The Future of Stretch and Shrink Sleeves to 2019. For more information, visit www.smitherspira.com.

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