Exclusive Interview with Scott Gilbert of Phototype

Smithers Pira recently spoke with Scott Gilbert, Director of Innovation and Commercialization at Phototype to gain some insights into what are the next big opportunities for the the digital print for packaging industry. 

Why are you interested in Digital Print for Packaging? 

As both an employee and a perpetual student… I am interested in understanding the current state and perceived future state of digital print for packaging. I believe this venue offers the opportunity to listen, learn and explore our perceptions and dispel rumors and misconceptions. Dialogue with consumer product companies, colleagues, vendors, and consultants continually expands my understanding of what is nice to have vs. what reality will look like. Phototype is approaching this space as the future for packaging and believes that the map is still being drawn. 

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry right now? (print/packaging) 

When it comes to print/packaging the biggest challenges I see is “when will digital take over” this space… in other words, we feel it will happen at some point, but we can’t seem to pin down the big tipping point. Another challenge centers around how brands can maintain their brand integrity in the digital packaging space. That is to say, how do they maintain brand consistency and continue to ensure all their regulatory requirements are met AND keep up with the ever-fickle consumer who is easily swayed by the latest trendy-shiny package one shelf over?

What are the biggest opportunities you see? 

I see several… first, I think the supply chain landscape will be forever changed due to digital print in packaging. Speed to market as well as the ability to test market on demand will allow CPG’s to get feedback faster and get the right products to shelf, Amazon and concert venue much faster! Another opportunity is in the design space. Digital packaging will allow for a new set of rules for designers and freedom to enter spaces that conventional print has historically limited. Finally, I believe there is an opportunity for a far greater enhanced consumer experience. Digital print could allow the consumer a new way of looking at product packaging that speaks to them and their specific wants and needs. The consumer experience with a package can be critical… having another tool in the tool kit allows designers and CPGs to maximize the overall brand experience relevant to the latest trends.

 What are some of the most innovative things happening in the industry? (including what you’re doing!) 

we believe that much of the supply chain including prepress, printers and logistics will dramatically change due to the impact of digital in packaging. For example; you can draw attention to your product with diverse images while maintaining your brand recognition. Another innovative area centers around how the consumer can get the sense that the product is “closer to home” with regionalization at a new level. Grab a cold drink that says not only is your town awesome… but congratulations to the local State Championship football team! Other innovations are brewing in the background that I am not a liberty to say… other than, we could see a whole new way of feel “connected” to the products we buy! Stay tuned!  

Who do you admire in the field? 

I tend to admire those who are willing to take a risk, fail and then take a risk again (based on learnings and experience). Companies that are TRULY focused on their customers win my admiration over time. I once heard a CPG representative speak at a conference about thinking like a food company (obviously he was with a food company) and he challenged everyone listening to do exactly that which is not easy! When you put yourself in the shoes of your client/customers, you begin to see things in a new light. Companies that do this well… earn business they might not have won otherwise including my business. I truly think a vast majority of companies that are out front are there because they work hard at understanding what their customers want… and along the way, discovering things they didn't know they wanted yet!

 If you could make any one thing happen in the industry, what would it be? (be as greedy or as generous as you want) 

Hmmm… I would put the forks, knives and napkins at the end of a buffet line instead of the beginning! As for this industry, I would love to see more companies take risks faster and not be afraid to fail, easy to say when I am not the one signing the checks! But… what I mean is look at what is possible on a small scale and try it out… if it resonates with your customer, find the way to scale it up fast and furious! Technology, innovation and the future is sometimes scary and risky… accept that it is what it is and go in head long thinking like your customers!