Records were smashed last month as Labelexpo attracted over 20,000 visitors to the Brussels Expo halls (see report in this issue). I’m sure an exhibition organizer from somewhere will take issue with me, but to my knowledge it has to be the first event in the converting field that has achieved that in the last couple of years.
Most shows have relied on the “higher quality, but fewer people” argument in their post show reports. There is nothing wrong with that statement. Quality is important. But if you can attract quality and the numbers – as an exhibition organizer – you probably have it made.
Just why did it happen? Yes, the marketing was good. Yes, it was talked up. Yes, it received plenty of pre-show coverage.
But there was much more to it than that. Labelexpo has always been a good niche event. Two years ago it took place just after 9/11, yet the numbers were still impressive. This time the niche well and truly expanded. The exhibition has come to mean far more than labels. Narrow web converting has come into its own with shorter runs and more flexible demands from the customers. Label presses have not only been designed for flexibility, but also are able to add so many other possibilities – embossing, die cutting, foiling, holograms, intelligent offerings and combinations of printing technology.
So when it comes to short runs in other packaging formats – flexible films, cartons and security print, for example – it is hardly surprising that the label press producers can come up trumps.
Add to that the undoubted debut of digital as a mainstream process for short runs and you have the reason why so many came to see and buy the technology on offer.