Canadian Packaging

Packaging up a digital future

By Ian Lifshitz, Sustainability Director for the Americas, Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP)   

Design & Innovation General Asia Pulp & Paper Group Coca-Cola digital packaging Heinz Get well soup cans Mondelez personalized Nutella jars Personalized Oreo packages Share A Coke campaign

Asia Pulp & Paper Group sustainability director for the Americas Ian Lifshitz takes a look at how getting personal has helped turn marketing of products on its ear.

The development of digital printing has been dramatic and will soon become even more important for all of us in the industry. For those working in packaging technology it’s as big a milestone as the invention of the Gutenberg Printing Press was to communications.

Big picture, this is about the potential for taking personalized packaging out of the world of high-end marketing stunts and into the mainstream. That’s because digital printing offers the ability to handle a more cost-effective way to produce a medium length run of a brand’s packaging.

Digital printing will allow brands to cut through the marketing noise. So far, only multi-nationals have been able to indulge in such clever initiatives, but that could soon change.

The 2013 Coca-Cola’s “Share A Coke” campaign (see image above) in the U.S. is credited with boosting sales because of its personalized packaging.



Last year, Oreo-maker Mondelez, used digital presses to allow customers to design personalized Oreo packages in the U.S. That practice has expanded into China. And now it is possible to have your name on a jar of Nutella with just a couple of clicks.


One of the most inspiring examples of personalized marketing was the award-winning campaign called Get Well Soup by Heinz. Using Heinz’s Facebook page you were able to send a personalized can of soup to someone not feeling well. One of the drawbacks is the time it takes to get the product delivered to the person. As U.K. print consultant Sean Smyth quipped about personalized soup cans, “the only problem is that it takes three to five days and by that time you are either well or dead”. Timeliness is still a factor.


The new generation of digital presses showcased at Drupa 2016, the world’s largest trade fair for graphic and industrial print, suggests this will not be a problem in the coming years. Technological innovation is leading to more efficient and affordable machines. As barriers fall the opportunities will increase.

The next phase could be luxury goods producers seeking ways to differentiate and target discerning customers by personalizing their products. And as that becomes successful we could see digital printing allow packaging to become personalized to a much larger market.

Packaging materials producers will face fresh challenges as digital printing grows. Increased flexibility in print applications is likely to lead to the demand for different materials used in packaging. Customers may need to be enticed with higher quality paper and board to complement a truly unique package.

Opportunities appear limitless for those in the packaging industry as we get to grips with the technological advancements. It will be important for the packaging material industry to embrace the changes taking place and be at the forefront of the innovative process. If we are successful it will increase the prospects for brands to build stronger relationships with their customers.

About Ian Lifshitz
Ian Lifshitz is the sustainability director for the Americas for Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP). He is responsible for leading the company’s sustainability and related stakeholder engagement programs across Canada, the United States, and South America. Ian is also charged with leading the company’s North American CSR activities, translating and communicating many of APP’s successful conservation, biodiversity and social community programs to North American audiences.

About APP
Canada APP Canada is part of the APP group and is the leading importer/distributor of printing papers and packaging paperboards from APPs mills in Indonesia and China. The company serves the Canadian printing and packaging industry with strategically positioned warehouse inventories of coated, uncoated and opaque stocks in sheet and roll form, C1S and C2S board, photocopy paper and cut size stock, and boards and blanks products. In addition, APP Canada supports the print and packaging industry through an experienced team of sales professionals, with capabilities to support the industry on technical specifications and APPs proprietary color management system. APP Canada is PEFC certified and fully committed to maintaining the integrity of APPs worldwide program initiatives of environmental responsibility, sustainability and quality control. Company information at


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories

Category Captains 2024