As we have touched upon in earlier articles about the power of the everyday sticker, the increase in their usage and overall popularity goes hand-in-hand with the technology used to produce them and make them adhere to other items. And the market for these types of things is continuing to grow. According to a recent study, through 2025, it is estimated that demand for printed labels will increase 3.2% per year. Printed labels will more often feature the use of more appealing, 360-degree coverage of an item and more complex, high-quality graphics in the years to come.
Conversely, most other printing processes (such as lithographic, screen, and letterpress printing) will continue to lose market share to flexographic and digital printing. Label printers will increasingly combine flexography and digital to benefit from flexography’s cost-effectiveness for longer runs and digital’s advantages in shorter print runs. The suitability of digital printing for short run applications is always improving, which is in line with the trend in many consumer goods sectors toward increased product diversity and customization. Over all, all other printing technologies continue to be outperformed by digital printing.
In addition to replacing current technologies, digital printing will create new labeling applications in both primary packaging and high-end specialized uses in the future. This growth will be based on the distinctive qualities of digital technology, which will enable the labeling of goods that were previously thought to be impractical (or even impossible) for traditional printing techniques. In an age where customization at the point of sale is a deciding factor, it seems speed and versatility are the most important things to focus on with this.
But for the lay person or someone just getting into sales of these items, what makes stickers stick to things? Stickers adhere to a surface using any number of adhesives, which is essentially a specialized type of glue or paste. Adhesives can be created in a variety of methods and from a variety of materials, but they all generally function in the same way thanks to “macromolecules.” These molecules can be imagined as “molecular ropes,” or lengthy chains of molecules that repeat. Some molecules have a built-in ability to attach to other molecules and to one another. The molecular ropes in adhesives are organized such that the components with these properties are all aligned up.
These molecules adhere strongly to one another and to a variety of surfaces thanks to the combined action of all those sticky portions. Engineers and chemists produce a wide variety of adhesives and are constantly attempting to develop new large molecules that are even stickier—or less sticky, when that is required, such as for removable stickers. But it’s the permanence of most of these stickers that’s really the thing that makes them so popular, from fun and expressive uses to industrial applications for shipping and marking production runs of nearly everything.
The popularity of stickers cannot be overlooked in terms of advertising. Now we know that when you think of advertising, stickers certainly aren’t the first thing that spring to mind. Small and unassuming, stickers with customized logos and company names are frequently disregarded, but if you glance around you’ll discover that these modest but effective advertising tools are everywhere. Stickers are used by all brands, large and small, for marketing purposes and with good cause. These ubiquitous promotional mainstays are not only cost-effective, but they also open up a whole new universe of promotional opportunities.
Many companies have opted to become linked mentally to stickers in the modern mindset. Many of these businesses have utilized stickers to expand their clientele and fan base. Just take a look at what Apple Computer has done since the 1970’s. Despite having an enormous marketing budget, the tech giant always makes sure that every consumer who purchases an Apple device also receives a sticker bearing their emblem. Common places for these apple-shaped stickers include notebooks, laptops, and even the backs of cars; the customers literally become billboards for the maker. And today, this simple sticker can even be used as a status symbol now that Apple has become one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Another of the big companies that use this strategy is GoPro, which is the preferred camera for athletes, enthusiasts of extreme sports, and those who produce outdoor video. This is mainly because several models have a wide-angle fish lens that catches more action and atmosphere than a conventional point-and-shoot. Every GoPro purchase includes a free sticker, and customers can simply e-mail for more and have them mailed to their address. They are available in a wide range of sizes, allowing them to be used on items as large as sporting goods and as little as water bottles. Go on any film set or action-content video house and you will see this in play for yourself.
Possibly the most well-known sticker start-up tale in history is that of Reddit. This is currently one of the largest community-based web platforms, but initially its creators had a $500 advertising budget back in 2005. It was used entirely to produce stickers. These stickers were given out at gatherings, festivals, and even to stray passersby. Giving away free stickers wasn’t a foolproof method of advertising, but it did help increase brand recognition and create the Reddit community that has made the website what it is today. Everyone saw it everywhere, assumed it had to be the go-to brand, and went for it.
Little, tiny, powerful stickers are going to be on the marketing and advertising scene for some time to come. Their purely virtual cousins are gaining popularity in messaging amongst younger people where a picture really does say a thousand words for them. But until you can put a digital imprint onto an object and leave it there (which probably will happen once day), the traditional sticker with modern forms of the centuries-old method, is here to stay. And if you can deliver the newest trends of them and become known for that, you’ll see as secure an income as anyone can have in the years to follow.