Consumers today spend just a few seconds making a decision at the store shelf to identify themselves with a brand. The label is the most obvious means to communicate and associate your brand with the consumer. This is an important part of a customer journey. Ironically when brand owners look for cost reduction of their packaging, often target labels first which contributes very marginal to the entire cost of the package.

This article examines the total cost associated with label decoration & tries to highlight the missing elements in cost comparison between different labelling technologies. Companies typically look only at material costs based on the relatively straight price-per-thousand-labels approach when comparing different decoration technologies. It is an easy but incomplete analysis because if you want an accurate assessment, you have to include other application factors related to operations, logistics and maintenance.

Examining each cost associated with different decorative technologies can definitely influence which labelling method provides the best and most costeffective options.There are many labelling choices available – direct print, wet-glue,
in-mould, shrink sleeves and pressure-sensitive.

One needs to look at the full cost of applying alternate decoration technologies to the package & compare both technologies together to bring more realistic perspective on the cost to decorate a package. The comparison needs to consider range of factors that includes cost and efficiency of label application, investment in capital equipment
and machinery change parts, logistics, and inventory control, application flexibility, application speed & downtime.


Total Cost Elements


Price/Thousand Labels
  • Material Cost
  • Printing & Conversion Cost
  • Manufacturing Window/Lead Times
Other Costs
  • Application Equipment Investment
  • Application Speed
  •  Application Downtime
  •  Logistics & Inventory Control


Soft Costs which are often missed are:

In-mould Labelling Applications

  1. Typically, a manufacturer needs to store large quantities of pre-labelled containers on-site to cope with demand variables.
  2. Different flavours, fragrances, new product introductions, regional promotions, etc., have to be considered when a product is produced. These factors create complexity when running different labels on the same line, along with more downtime when changing between variations, which ultimately increases labour and production
  3. Pre-decorated containers also need extra storage space and inventory management costs, as well as obsolescence costs for containers that cannot be used due to SKU or label change.

Glue Applied Labels

  1. Additional time needed for machine setups and start-ups with glue-applied applications,
  2.  Downtime that occurs during change-over,
  3. Messy clean-ups and machine maintenance activities,
  4. Cost of misapplied labels and the significant costs of change parts.

Understanding total cost comparison can help brand owners make better informed packaging decisions versus relying on just cost-per-thousand comparisons. Apart from the tangible benefits that one considers while costing, a true brand owner also needs to consider the intangible benefits & value addition a particular technology brings on the table. Some points to ponder here are:

Shelf Appeal & Its impact on consumers decision

  • Outstanding print graphics & visual effects
  • Enables sub-surface printing technology & No-Label Look
  • Supports dynamic label shapes, visual, tactile, & other sensory effects
  • Sophisticated and contemporary image


  • Nearly unlimited choice of label materials – Clear Films, Metallic Foils, Holographic & Lens effect films, Textured, Tactile Finish Papers, Color Radiant & Luminescent Papers.
  • Suitability for a broad variety of container types & materials
  • Various decorative techniques including metallic inks, cold foil and hot foil stamping, thermal sensitive inks, reactive, conductive & non conductive inks

Functional advantages

  • Sustainability & Recycling
  • Security, integrity, & track-n-trace features (e.g. Tamper, RFID, Barcodes)
  • Convenience – Reclose & Removable, No Stain Effect, Conformability
  • On-product promotions
  • Durability & longevity

Capital & Operational Efficiency

  • Labeling speeds & line capacities
  • Process scrap rates
  • Setup, cleanup, & changeover times
  • Physical inventory & carrying costs
  • Opportunity Costs

Wide variety & diversity of printing and converting techniques available in pressure sensitive labelling, In mould labelling, shrink sleeves & glue applied labelling such as metallic inks, embossing, and hot and cold foiling, to sub-surface printing and resealable designs can help CPG brands accelerate sales growth.

In mould label eliminates the use of adhesives and the issues that adhesives can cause during the application process. IMLs are also more durable and tamper proof as they are permanently integrated within the finished injection molded part, so something like condensation from the product will not cause any issues. These are ideal for use with high volume products because they can make a big impact. IML can be done on any side, top or bottom of a container, giving lots of real estate for your decoration, brand message.

Glue applied labelling is most prevalent in the beverage industry, which uses the blow moulding process to manufacture their typically round, cylindrical, or curved containers. It is a technical alternative to the IML process for those who wish to decorate their round, cylindrical, or curved containers with high-quality graphic
images. Although glue applied labels are not permanent, they nonetheless offer a vast choice of films (thin, thick), inks, and finishes (special coatings, foil-stamping, embossing, etc.). Glue applied labels are an advantageous and economical choice, accommodating both short-run or high-volume production quantities.

One of the biggest advantages of shrink sleeve labels over other technologies is that it can wrap around an entire container/cover for a product, giving the customer essentially 360-degrees viewing area even to different & difficult contours of containers. Shrink sleeve labels can fit many differently shaped containers where traditionally made product labels might not. Shrink sleeves have an added benefit in terms of adding security in a sense we can extend the sleeve up the neck of the product to create a tamper-evident holographic seal to increase security.

Different & difficult application substrates limits the possibility of innovation & packaging design most of the time. For E.g: Bags, boxes and tubes; glass, rigid and semi-rigid plastic, or “squeezable” bottles; stand-up, zippered or freezable pouches; to re-closures, lidding applications, folding cartons, gusseted bags, single-servers— every package can be made more appealing with a pressure-sensitive label.Due to the ease of application, different shapes, sizes and designs, pressure-sensitive labels can be applied with minimal changeover costs. This flexibility enables
promotional labels, regionalization, seasonal specials and themed campaigns to be deployed more cost-effectively. Security elements like tamper-proof labels, and item-level tracking through RFID labels can also be implemented.

Looking at the complete picture

CPG companies and brand owners have many options to decorate and promote their products Each decorating alternative must be carefully evaluated before making a decision, but most of the times it is the label and graphics that ultimately drives a consumer’s decision to purchase

Hence selecting the most appropriate method of product decorative technology requires taking a holistic view of the costs associated with different decorative technologies, cost benefit analysis & benefits of intangible advantages it offers for brands to be consumers preferred choice in the crowded market place.

What do we offer?

Holostik India Ltd. with its 40+ years of experience in security & printing industry expertise helps CPG companies acquire a larger market place by comparing different decoration technologies. As a solution expert, we are equipped to handle all types of labelling technologies available in the industry & hence are never biased towards promoting anyone technology over other which instils a sense of trust in the minds of brand owners & offers significant brand value. We educate companies about the overall value labels can deliver to the brand, as well as the operation. For
more information about our products & services, please visit

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Holograms for Packaged-Food

About the Author

Parag Agarwal

A packaging technocrat from SIES School of packaging, PG diploma in business administration with specialization in marketing, & graduate in science from Mumbai University, Parag Agrawal has 15 years of experience in Packaging Industry Domain in areas of Sales, Marketing & Product portfolio management. He is associated with Holostik India as a General Manager – Technical Sales for Labels Business Division. In his earlier roles, He was associated with Avery Dennison India as a Product Manager -SAPSSA for Specialties, Durables & SMART Labels portfolio working with external & internal customers to identify the product & application related challenges & create relevant solutions. He has also served companies like TCPL Packaging & Vora Packaging Pvt. Ltd. to help them drive sales & marketing for national & international markets in his previous tenure.

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