The overall decrease in smokers poses a challenge to packaging manufacturers which supply tobacco companies, as opportunities for growth dwindle and competition for remaining customers grows fierce. Some bright spots for the tobacco packaging industry are left: Eastern Europe, Russia and China. These regions, due to a lack of regulation or public sentiment against smoking, have seen an increase in tobacco use.
Although some 10-20% more expensive flip-top packs continue to penetrate the market in these areas as they are thought to be of a better quality compared to the cheap-looking soft packs. However, as anti-smoking regulations continue to spread across the world, such opportunities for the tobacco industry are expected to vaporize, and packaging manufacturers will be forced to diversify applications into which they supply, in order to secure future growth.
A recent study in the UK examined consumer perceptions of cigarette packs, including perceptions of ‘plain packaging’; in which colour and other design elements were removed, whilst retaining the brand name. The participants were asked to compare pairs of cigarette packs on five measures: taste, tar delivery, health risk, attractiveness and either ease of quitting (adult smokers) or brand they would choose if trying smoking (youth). Results: Adults and youth were significantly more likely to rate packs with the terms ‘smooth’, ‘silver’ and ‘gold’ as lower tar, lower health risk and either easier to quit smoking (adults) or their choice of pack if trying smoking (youth).
The colour of packs was also associated with perceptions of risk and brand appeal: compared with Marlboro packs with a red logo, Marlboro packs with a gold logo were rated as lower health risk by 53% and easier to quit by 31% of adult smokers. Plain packs significantly reduced false beliefs about health risk and ease of quitting, and were rated as significantly less attractive and appealing to youth for trying smoking. (You can view pictorial pack warnings from around the world at this website)
Even with the bill recently passed, requiring bold health warnings on both sides of a pack of cigarettes in England, a move countries like Brazil, Australia, Thailand and Singapore pioneered, discussions are going-on to do something more radical, and even more distressing to the industry: introducing all-white packages, to kill the mystique in brands, like Marlboro, Camel and others empowered by their distinctive look.
At the recent UK National Smoking Cessation Conference, Dr David Hammond of the University of Waterloo in Canada made it clear that every country in the world should be much more active in using the cigarette pack as a means of encouraging smokers to quit. The companies themselves clearly won’t do it voluntarily, so according to him, governments need to take control of the packs via legislation and require much more effective warnings and quitting information be included on cigarette packs.
Of course the tobacco industry is not happy with these developments, as layout, colouring and design of the packaging are the only possibilities left to promote the brand. Prohibited from advertising their products via the mainstream or other media, and limited by all the horrible warnings and pictures illustrating the devastating consequences of smoking, cigarette companies and their designers have no other choice then to take to the most fantastic printing technologies to show the ‘beauty’ of the product.
Irrelevant whether you smoke or not, or whether you want to ban tobacco products completely and despise tobacco companies, you have to admit that the 6 here described cigarette packages are school-examples of creativity, beautifully executed by the respective converters with the input of the latest in printing technology.
All six packages received a 2009 PLGA Global International Print Quality Award, so I include the judges’ comments and note that all six are converted by Alcan Packaging. Alcan Packaging (Rio Tinto Group) is a world leader in value-added specialty packaging ranking No. 1 in flexible food, pharmaceutical, beauty and tobacco packaging.
Alcan Packaging, Montreal, Canada converted the cigarette pack for the Benson & Hedges Super Slims. The pack is printed on a Bobst press in 10 colours on SBS board using Flint Inks. This package has 4 colour process, 4 spot colours, matt and gloss varnish plus hot foil stamping. The judges commented that this was a nice looking sample with foiling and a good use of differential lacquering. The reversed out and normal type is very clear and clean.
The next is from Alcan Packaging’s plant in Westin, Ontario, Canada for the Gauloises Tobacco Overwrap. The wrap is printed on paper on a Cerutti press in 4 process colours with registered lacquer and reverse side registered hot-melt using Sun Chemical Inks. This is a promotional wrap consisting of three designs made from four-colour process inks in which the balance of print had to meet health warning colour and customer graphics. Overall, according to the judges, a well-produced label with good halftones and clean, crisp type. The health warnings while gruesome are well produced.
The third cigarette pack is from Alcan Packaging, Montreal, Canada again. This time for Marlboro Fresh. To print this package on SBS board Alcan used 8 stations using Flint ink on a Bobst press. These packs incorporate pearlescent ink, two different polychromatic metallic inks, matt and gloss lacquer. The combination of matt and gloss lacquers with the polychromatic inks and the vignettes background give a sophisticated and modern look, which is emphasized by the embossing elements.
Alcan Packaging in Bristol, England, did the next good printing job: a Hologram Carton for Lambert & Butler. This is a special pack as the range of holographic cartons were designed to celebrate Lambert & Butler’s position of 10 years as the UK’s biggest FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) brand.
The pack made from SBS board laminated with an in-register film holographic is printed on a Bobst press in 8 colours plus varnish. The use of holograms contributes to enormous shelf appeal. Small screens of colour were used on each pack to distinguish brand variants. The hologram was designed to fit existing brand graphics.
Special printing techniques were required including accurate tension control on the printing press and the use of sophisticated print register equipment to enable up to 6 colours to be successfully printed in register with the hologram.
It is the first time that rotogravure printing technology and in-line embossing and cutting and creasing has been used in conjunction with a registered holographic laminate for the tobacco market.
It is a bright looking carton with excellent halftones, clear and clean type and good solids, while the revolutionary holographic pack design sets a new standard for tobacco product packaging.
From Alcan Packaging, Atlanta, USA comes the Camel # 9 Menthol. A nice contrast between the black, green and red images printed on SBS board in 4 colours and varnish using Sun Chemical inks on a Bobst press. The judges commented: “Not too much to go wrong with this carton”. The solids are good in all colours and the black type clear and legible. The crocodile embossing effect is truly unique and makes this job.
And Alcan Packaging, Atlanta, had a second winner with the Camel # 9 Menthol Tactile Effect.
Printed on SBS board in 6 colours, using Sun Chemical inks on a Bobst press, the package is unique in that the Tactile Effect was created by using micro particle ink and special engraving by SGS. The magenta background contrasts nicely with the deep black and the silver/gold 9. The reversed out type is clear and very legible and the Tactile Effect quite good.
So, what is best? Plain white cartons with horrendous graphics popping off the packs or high-technology printed beautiful cartons, which without doubt will soften the impact of the same horrendous graphics.
The Super Blooper of this Year
Gauloises Blondes in a Tin with a Zipper