Differentiation. It’s what every brand owner wants for their product, but in increasingly crowded markets, it is becoming harder and harder to achieve.
Brand owners know that packaging is the key differentiator on the shelf, and special finishing techniques – such hot foil stamping and thermal embossing – can elevate their product compared to others, and provide consumers with a visual shortcut to the quality of what’s inside.
Hot foil stamping is the process of using heat and pressure to apply metallic foil or holograms to materials such as light papers, carton board, laminated board, plastics and corrugated board.
“In a world where we have very mature markets with limited opportunity for major growth, there is no question that products need to differentiate themselves somehow,” said Jacques Reymond, head of product marketing Business Unit Sheet-fed at BOBST. “Hot foil stamping helps to reinforce the value to the product and is often associated with premium products. Ultimately, the box is a marketing instrument, and by using hot foil stamping, you can convey the quality of what it inside.”
The term can encompass simple flat foil stamping, deep embossing or embossing combined with foil stamping, hologram and holographic foil application and foil stamping combined with micro & structural embossing. Traditionally, gold or silver are the most common colors used for foiling, but a wide range of colored foils are available.
Application across industries
Hot foil stamping is used across a wide range of industry sectors, but most notably in food and drink (particularly confectionary such as premium chocolate, wine and liquor bottles, and other premium foods), cosmetics, electronics, banknotes, business cards, greeting cards and art work.
There is no doubt about the value of embellishments like cold stamping foil. According to a study by the Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA), hot foil stamping and other similar enhancements on product packaging can help attract consumer attention faster and keep attention longer than ordinary packaging. In another study of disposable single-serve coffee packaging, the packaging with gold foil attracted the study participants’ attention 2.5 times faster than the control packaging.
It’s not just about looking good. Hot foil stamping is also used for its anti-counterfeiting properties, particularly in pharmaceuticals, and in technology such as smart phones.
The stamp of sustainability
Sustainability is becoming an even bigger priority for brand owners and is in itself a means of differentiation. Many assume that packaging with foil is not recyclable and therefore not sustainable, but a study by the FSEA on the recyclability and re-pulpability of foil-decorated stock and board validated the recyclability of paper products decorated by the traditional hot stamp foil processes.