Asia's label markets: this expansive region is finding the balance between economic growth and environmental impact.

Author:Diamond, Catherine
 
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Asia is composed of 49 countries, and is home to nearly 4.4 billion people. To put this number into perspective, that's almost 60% of the world's population. According to The Economist, the population of Asia and its rate of growth are extraordinarily high for today's modern era. During the 20th century alone, the population of Asia nearly quadrupled.

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This remarkable increase in population has its drawbacks, specifically in terms of the environment. But in terms of economic potential, the sky is the limit. Many industry suppliers have had a presence in Asia for years (some, for decades) in an effort to tap into this astonishingly fast-growing market.

WHAT SETS THIS REGION APART

The Asian label market is unique because its size and its diversity. Because of the number of countries in the region, it can be very difficult to pinpoint industry standards that are consistent throughout the region. According to Yael Barak, packaging segment manager of strategic marketing at HP, there are significant differences in print quality, labeling and packaging standards, labor costs and run lengths between countries.

"The common thread in almost all Asian countries, though, is that the market is highly sensitive to production cost," Barak says. "That is probably the primary obstacle in the overall adoption of digital technology. That being said, it is a fast-evolving region with a quickly developing middle class. 'What we are facing right now is the struggle to change the mindset of printers and brand owners toward creating higher value applications, enhancing product image and/or creating differentiation to better engage and retain consumer interest."

HP has been involved in the Asian label and packaging market for more than a decade. Barak says that HP has seen a lot of success with its Indigo printers in two of the main areas of the market: glue-applied labels and specialty labels. He attributes this success to the need for variable content and unique designs, as well as the need to address price-sensitive and volume-based print runs.

"In the past two to three years," he says, "we've experienced significant growth and more installations in the mainstream labels and packaging market."

He adds, "There is still a lot of variance in the region, SO printing methods vary from market to market. However, there is a growing acceptance of digital technology across the board, specifically with HP Indigo printers as the quality meets and exceeds brand standards. We have also...

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