EskoWorld Reveals the Future of Packaging Software In Dallas

Looking back at a show exposing conflicting perspectives

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06/30/2022

Greg Cholmondeley

 

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Esko hosted their 2022 user conference, EskoWorld, at the Gaylord Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas (near Dallas). Over 450 attendees participated in more than 150 presentations, demos, and discussion sessions with topics that ranged from product roadmaps, subject matter expert discussions, technical training, and keynote addresses. Roughly half the attendees were packaging converters, and the other were brand managers. What I find interesting is that both communities are Esko software customers. That doesn’t happen much in marketing departments in the commercial printing space.

 

Esko software covers a considerable breadth of functionality—from e-commerce to approval, marketing asset management, prepress, workflow management, and automation. Packaging converters acquire and use this software for similar reasons commercial printers use similar software. However, many packaging brand managers acquire and use Esko software even though they don’t perform prepress or production work. They use it to control their marketing assets and design process by providing logins to their agency and converter vendors. On the other hand, marketing departments primarily rely upon commercial printers to make these investments.

 

Another observation from the event is that, while there was considerable focus on sustainability, other packaging needs conflicted with the messaging. While most experts emphasized the importance of using sustainable materials, they also talked about unboxing experiences (which often increase the amount of packaging) and packaging embellishments with metallic inks that can make paper unrecyclable. This somehow feels like “greenwashing” to me. If the industry were serious about sustainability, I would think that the first step would be to reduce packaging material—but that is often not what it is promoting. Instead, packaging industry experts seem to primarily limit their sustainability focus to using more sustainable packaging materials.

 

General Sessions

Jan De Roeck, Marketing Director from Esko, talked about some of the top packaging design trends Esko customers are seeing. These include:

  • Vintage packaging
  • The unboxing experience
  • Sustainable packaging
  • A proliferation of small brands
  • More yet shorter print runs
  • Shorter lead times
  • Negative social perception of plastic packaging waste
  • Online consumer e-commerce sales to boost low-quality transport packaging
  • Fragile supply chains
  • Raw material availability and increased price
  • More remote workers requiring access to mission-critical data
  • A shortage of trained labor
  • Single-site converters consolidating into global, multi-site enterprises

 

Jan De Roeck on Stage at EskoWorld 2022

 

Maimouna Diakhaby, Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company, agreed with several of De Roeck’s points in her keynote presentation. She talked about sustainability, which she claims is the number one packaging concern—even though consumers are confused about how different packaging forms impact the environment. She said that increasing consumer e-commerce is driving packaging redesigns to incorporate lighter formats that can be more tightly and securely packed for end user shipping. In addition, she explained how the digitization of packaging would continue to reduce costs while increasing quality.

 

 

Vendor Presence

In addition to Esko, several of their partners had booths at the event, including:

  • Informa IT automated proofreading software
  • HiFlow Solutions, a MIS focused on folding carton, flexible packaging, and labels
  • CERM, a MIS focused on labels and packaging
  • Advantzware, a MIS/ERP focused on sheet plant corrugated converters
  • Tilia Labs impositioning and workflow management

 

Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

Esko World 2022 delivered what its users need with training, expert advice, and exposure to the full range of Esko solutions. The attendance was near pre-pandemic levels, which indicates that the industry is recovering from shutdowns and business anxiety. I’m looking forward to their next event in 2023.

 

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