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Personalization article· 10 min

June 06, 2021

Packaging is the new canvas. Data is the new design.

Packaging paints a personalized picture. With new printing technology, the scope for social engagement, personalization and creativity in labels and packaging is limitless.

All data points to creativity

When Jordy de Jong saw his product on the shelves, he nearly didn’t recognize it. And not because it was a Hard to Crack IPA: despite seeing his product every day for years, his brand surprised him.

Jordy is brand brewer at Dutch IPA, one of many craft brands working with the HP SmartStream software. He always wanted his beer to stand out in stores, online and spark more customer engagement. Turns out, he got more than he bargained for.

As we know, the pandemic has changed how people shop—we order more online and visit stores less often. These days people are so dependent on digital, we also expect more from brands, wanting ‘interactions with businesses, products and services’ to be personalized.¹

With more downtime to think about what and how (little) we experience and consume during Covid-19, it’s only natural that we’re becoming more conscious of our own shopping behavior. Trends show customers now look for craft producers, sustainable options, interesting stories, and want to support locals more. In the UK, 45% of consumers happily ordered from international companies before the pandemic, a number that has now decreased to 32%.²

From a brand perspective, the crisis has highlighted the importance of meaningful connections with consumers. More than 50% of Millennials and Gen-Z expect personalized products and services—and consumers are increasingly turning to brands that demonstrate how well they understand their individual needs.³

'As individuals become more conscious about how and why they consume, driven by concerns such as wellbeing and environmental impact, brands need to embrace new ways to understand them. They need to inform, inspire, champion and take the lead.'

Packaging paints a personalized picture

With new printing technology, the scope for social engagement, personalization and creativity in labels and packaging is limitless. Personalized packaging helps consumers feel recognized, appreciated and satisfied, creating a sense of ownership, and a more intimate and distinctive experience.⁴ In return they are more likely to make repeat purchases, endorse a business on social media, and sign up for promotions.

Take Coca-Cola for example: the pop-fizz giant was one of the first to create a now infamous ‘Share a Coke’ campaign that tailored their packaging to individuals’ names.

During the campaign, consumers were encouraged to find bottles with names that held personal meaning to them, share them with friends and family, then share their experiences with the hashtag #ShareaCoke. The campaign was a roaring success: Consumers shared more than 500,000 photos via the #ShareaCoke hashtag in the first year alone, and Coca-Cola gained roughly 25 million new Facebook followers that same year.⁵

A taste of the possibilities

While creating unique labels with infinite variations has always been easier for big brands, today you don’t need to be Coke to get creative. Dutch IPA is just one example of a small producer that developed thousands of distinctive labels to achieve increased customer engagement.

By using the HP Indigo WS6900 and the HP SmartStream Designer software, each individual Dutch IPA label told a visual variation of the brand story. The team realised ‘anything was possible’ with HP’s SmartStream Designer software: every Dutch IPA label became a canvas on which to design with any data, meaning never-ending stories and limitless creativity.

As Jordy de Jong says, ‘We've been able to develop labels with infinite variations and backgrounds...every label can illustrate new adventures in beer flavours that immediately appeal to the imagination—and tastes—of customers.’

New labels help Dutch IPA remain competitive and affordably boost customer engagement. ‘What appealed to us about the technology is the ability to develop unique labels without complex or time-consuming processes, and at an affordable price point.’

The stock standard one-size-fits all consumer experience is over – 44% of consumers have admitted they will switch to a brand that offers a personalized experience.⁶ Digital printing helps to errode the barriers to entry when it comes to personalization and customization, so even small brands can use these trends to drive loyalty, engagement and sales.

Jump on the creative brand wagon

With low barriers to entry, customization is doable for small brands, big brands, and it’s feasible for one-off events and celebrations. For example, Hershey launched the ‘Her’ ‘She’ packaging campaign, honoring and celebrating female talent for International Women’s Day 2020.

In a show of perfect promotional and topical wordplay, Hershey turned 30,000 chocolate bars into pieces of art, featuring work by female Brazilian artists, musicians and illustrators on the packaging. The limited edition wrappers sold out in supermarkets in a matter of days, while women shared their own creativity using #HerSheGallery. Hershey achieved 1 billion impressions in just 10 days, $300,000 in earned media, and 100% positive feedback from consumers.

Creativity is conclusive

As today’s consumers expect to be understood by the brands they love and recognized as an individual, personalization and customization promise a bright future for all brands. A powerful tool to increase loyalty, drive incremental revenue and boost brand engagement, the potential of data in design and creativity is paramount. 

91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations for them.

More and more brands are asking about personalization and customisation in print label packaging. To find out more about the creative possibilities of HP Mosaic and HP Smartstream, contact us.


1. Sourced from Deloitte Consumer Review:
2. E-commerce statistics 2020: insights from the UK. Sourced from:
3. Sourced from HP:
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