Trends in Label Substrates

What's on trend in the world of sticker stocks?

custom label substrate trends

Custom stickers can be printed on a HUGE array of different substrates: paper, poly, vinyl, foil that can be clear, metallicized, brushed, reflective, matte, glossy, brite, fluorescent, even prismed or holographic – the options are endless! Well, maybe not endless, but certainly plentiful…

If you’re unfamiliar with a substrate in the sticker sense, it’s referring to the material that the sticker is made from and the ink is applied to; and of course, to qualify as a sticker, it has to have a sticky side.

Recent trends in labeling have seen an increase in popularity with a few stocks, for example the natural “kraft” paper. Kraft paper resembles a brown paper bag; it is somewhat porous and therefore has subtle texture to it. It works well with dark spot colors and lends itself to a more “natural” packaging or branding aesthetic. Perhaps the reason this substrate is seeing an increase in use is because natural and green products are gaining popularity and there is a movement towards local, small batch or hand-crafted consumer goods.

Another trending substrate is the “estate” paper, which comes in a variety of different weights, shades of white and textures all of which are denoted by a number, for example estate paper #4. These stocks can produce very elegant and creamy-looking labels that often have a matte finish and print well with four color process. These stocks have heavier weight than standard white paper and the grain is quite visible, which gives the paper an old-world feel and air of quality.

Tamper-evident and destructible polys have also seen a surge in use, perhaps due to growing awareness for their useful application and availability. These stocks are designed to demonstrate tampering with packaging or products because they leave behind evidence of any removal attempt. Sometimes these substrates are referred to as “tamper proof”, however this is a misnomer since there is really no way to produce a sticker that is invulnerable to tampering of any kind. These types of decals are being used for protecting warranties and restricting access to electronic components and more recently, providing solutions for companies with their PCI compliance requirements.

The world of packaging orbits around the dynamic and ever-shifting trends of marketing and branding, but it can’t lose sight of its fundamental need to be practical and solution oriented for any industry. As customer’s tastes and specifications change, sticker substrates must stay in step. It’s a sticky job but somebody’s got to do it!

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