infographic RADAR_websiteTo have a good understanding of where your business stands today, requires that you have a clear picture of the journey you have been on, the one your competitors and customers are on and the path the industry itself is taking.

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Of course, we know that it is not as cut and dried as that. There are so many elements that have to be taken into account in all three of those areas that no individual can take on such a task alone.

What do our customers want? What are the new technologies? How does my offering stack up against my competitors? Are my customers happy? What will make them happy? Have I established effective margins? Is my throughput efficient enough? And so the list goes on….

That is why we produce our member-exclusive RADAR reports every six months. The aim is to provide details that can help answer some of these questions and discuss trends and growth rates at all levels across the European narrow web supply chain. It is also why you and other members of this dynamic and vibrant industry look forward to its half-yearly publication.

RADAR reports identify key topics, trends and headline figures that are indicators of pressure points members should be aware of, challenges to be prepared for, and opportunities to seize and transform into revenue-generating services.

Brand-owner viewpoint

It is with the latter in mind that we take a look at the first set of interesting statistics to come out of the most recent RADAR’s regarding the brand owner viewpoint. It shows that slightly more than half of the respondents cited faster delivery times as a leading market force. This is a perfect example of how focussing on challenging issues and pain points can create an opportunity.

By shortening delivery times, operations can retain business and even attract new clients that were potentially looking further afield.

In addition, 42% of companies said they may migrate away from self-adhesive labels for some applications in 2016, leaving 58% who plan to continue using self-adhesive labeling. This makes it clear that alternative processes are being considered and actively adopted. The survey found that food was the primary market moving from self-adhesive labels to shrink labelling.

Perhaps more perplexing is the news that only a third (33%) of brand owners and buyers will stay with their current supplier in 2016. Although the prospect for incumbent suppliers of existing jobs being sourced elsewhere is never pleasant, it is also an encouragement to review one’s own unique selling proposition(s), increase one’s understanding of the market and to invest in one’s own positioning towards key markets and customers.

So when it comes to additional factors that may attract business or help retain existing clients, what could help you land those elusive orders? Well, 48% of respondents cited Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as increasingly important, while recycling was a key consideration for 59% and environmental certification for 41%.

Converter viewpoint

In another RADAR issue, 53% of converter respondents indicated that 7 to 14 days is the average lead time, showing a significant shortening in lead times. But perhaps some work still needs to be done – particularly at the two-week mark.

It is clear that some geographic markets are having a harder time than others. For example, central Europe saw just a 4% average increase in profit levels in 2014, and Eastern Europe recorded a 7% increase. Converters in UK and Ireland fared better with a 12% increase in profit levels in 2014 (at the moment this is written, our RADAR partner LPC is collecting input for the 2015 converter survey).

In terms of looking at market opportunities, 35% of converters are interested in markets outside of self-adhesive labels. 40% are already active in sleeve converting, 27% in flexible packaging converting and 20% in converting in-mould applications.

There is no standing still in this dynamic marketplace; and many operations are looking at what new markets they can embrace, with sleeve converting being the most prominent target. This is likely due to processes that dovetail readily with traditional labelling technologies or that support traditional self-adhesive label customers looking to enjoy potential growth markets.

While making the most of the opportunities that present themselves, converters have also been on the lookout for potential market pressures – the primary one being industry consolidation; 43% identified this as their biggest threat.

These are just some of the highlights from FINAT RADAR, and there is much more in the full reports. By incorporating the RADAR insights into strategic planning processes, FINAT members will be able to better concentrate on the most relevant factors and avoid potential potholes or dead ends on their road to success. This puts FINAT members at a significant advantage in a complex and ever-changing market.

Jules Lejeune Managing Director FINAT