Skip to main content

Insight: What are the Main Advantages of Stretch and Shrink Sleeve Labels?

image Stretch and shrink sleeves have grown over the previous decade to capture around 12.5% by area of the global labels markets. What is causing this increase in demand?
Sleeve label demand is largely driven by its advantages in terms of marketing and brand identity, as well as its visual on-shelf appeal to consumers. New developments in sleeve label films and manufacturing processes are also improving the quality and definition of sleeve labels on a continual basis. Other market drivers for sleeve labels include economic influences, consumer demand for convenience products and retail trends. In this new bulletin, Smithers Pira examines the main advantages of stretch and shrink sleeve labels, and what might be behind this market growth.
1.) Brand identity
What sleeves offer that is different to most other types of labelling and decoration is a cost-effective method of decorating highly complex shaped containers. They may also enable the wall thickness of plastic and glass containers to be reduced, eliminate the need for coloured containers, and provide new types of promotional opportunities. By shrinking films labels onto a product, heat shrink labels can smoothly cover contours that would be difficult for standard adhesive labels. Given the growing popularity of sleek, curvaceous beverage bottles, this is an important advantage for sleeve labels.
Sleeve labels have an advantage over conventional label types when it comes to making a product stand out to consumers. A sleeve label can be applied to a package in a variety of different ways, from covering just the shoulders or cap of a container to full-body 360 coverage. The extra space provided by full-body shrink sleeves allows for some colourful and eye-catching designs, as well as providing a larger area for brand owners to communicate with prospective customers. With tight labelling regulations for food and pharmaceutical products in place or on the way, having this extra space to conform to regulatory standards while also maintaining a product's ability to reach out to consumers will only become more important over time.
2.) On-shelf impact
To isolate the effect of shrink labels and quantify the value of the package, in 2011 Eastman Chemical Company commissioned AC Nielsen to conduct a study of 800 consumers to help understand consumer preference for label format. The study confirmed the on-shelf effectiveness of, and preference for, high-contour bottles featuring shrink sleeve labels. The study also demonstrated that shrink sleeve labels create stronger consumer emotional connections than traditional labels and act as a key influencer of initial product trial and long-term sales.
While shrink sleeve labels expand package aesthetics and design potential, research suggests that consumers can perceive them as a relatively expensive label type, causing them to suspect an unnecessarily heightened product cost. However, shrink sleeve labels provide secondary, unseen savings by allowing brand owners to eliminate tamper-evident drop bands, remove colorant from closures and bottles, and reduce or eliminate UV inhibitors in the package. Total package value should be considered, both when spurring consumers to try a new product and when building brand loyalty.
3.) Practical advantages
Sleeve labels also offer advantages for the more practical aspects of packaging design. For example, pre-formed shrink film bands, which are manufactured to fit particular container shapes without the need for custom design, can be attached to container caps to provide a protective, tamper-evident seal. Whether for food or beverage products or for the more safety critical pharmaceutical products, pre-form bands are a simple way of informing customers if a product has been tampered with. These bands can be perforated for easy access, as well as allowing printed safety text. CCL Label, for example, launched an easy-to-open shrink sleeve paired with a tamper-evident seal in 2012. The easy-opening label covers the neck/top of bottles and comparable containers for food, cosmetics and hygiene products.