Beyond price - Image Magazine


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Beyond price

Beyond price

It is understandable that in challenging economic times and in a competitive market, businesses want to save money. Sound, prudent, financial decisions are key to running a successful profitable business and cost efficiencies are important. An important consideration is where to make these savings and how these savings may impact and contribute to the overall business.

Choosing the right film is one of the most critical steps in any installation and is sometimes the first area where costs are reviewed. When using self-adhesive films, it is important to remember that the film is the foundation of the job. Build something on a weak foundation and you risk compromising the whole job. When you look at a vehicle wrap or a more technically challenging installation, the film only makes up a very small percentage of the overall cost. If it fails, then the impact on cost is far greater than film cost in the first place.

If you examine the fine print in warranty documents, you might be surprised to discover that in some cases you are only covered for the cost of the film and then only if the film is faulty. If the wrong film is chosen, one that cannot handle the demands of the installation or is incompatible with the application surface, any resulting failures will rest solely on the convertor. In my experience this is the leading cause of graphic failures which means most problems leave the purchaser out of pocket.

Success or failure is not always related to the price of the material. Some cheap films may work just fine for some applications. While a film may initially cost less per square meter then another film, once the job is completed, it could actually end up being more expensive. What if the film takes longer to convert or apply? Printability, handling, application, ease of cutting and weeding and removability all impact on the price of a job and so the initial cost of the film is not the only indicator of value  or expense.

In digital printing it is sometimes difficult to show the value between two films. They may look the same, print the same, even apply the same, but performance out in field over time can be very different. Customers do not always complain and they do not always come back. Failures that happen prematurely are not always acted on by the client for various reasons. They can assume these are simply the limitations of printed graphics and future opportunities to service the client are lost.

A good example of this was an installation inside lifts at an entertainment venue. One of the key requirements of the campaign was that it should be easily removed after the promotion. A film was recommended with this in mind. The printer opted for what they thought was a more cost-effective alternative which printed, applied and performed the same but when it came to removing the graphics it proved difficult. The lifts had to be shut down so that the time-consuming task of film and adhesive removal could occur. This was a significant inconvenience in a venue that was open 24/7.  The end user decided against using lifts for future print campaigns. Failing self-adhesive installations do not serve our industry well. End-users lose confidence in our technology and it creates a negative impression for other potential customers who see these failures.

Self-adhesive manufacturers are under pressure to produce cheaper films to satisfy customer expectations and be competitive in the market. They can do it by reducing their margins and cost cutting, more efficient production and processes, using cheaper ingredients or shifting manufacturing to markets where labour is cheaper. Some of these measures impact on quality and consistency and others do not. Getting something cheap can mean getting something for less than it is worth or equally getting something that is an inferior product in a case of “you get what you pay for”.

We need to factor in value when looking at price.

The value or quality of a film should also not be determined by its name. Cast, calendered polymeric and monomeric, are names that simply categorise films based on the manufacturing process and the plasticisers used to soften the film. They only provide an indication of potential quality and performance but say nothing about the other ingredients used, the expertise of the manufacturer, the adhesive quality or performance of the backing paper. All these components impact on the performance of the product and have the potential to add value or not.

A cast film is not the best simply because the film was made using the casting method. This method enhances the pliability, conformability and dimensional stability of the top sheet but doesn’t always guarantee long term durability. We all know that the environment conditions in Australia and New Zealand and elevated UV are particularly challenging for outdoor graphics. Some vehicle wrapping cast films have a warranty of only a few months, in non- vertical orientations and others, years. The variance in durability is due to other technical factors beyond just the name. The same reasoning applies with polymeric and monomeric films. Look beyond the name and evaluate what performance, application and durability aspects are being promised and if they meet yours and the  clients expectations.

Check carefully the life expectancy. A film may be promoted as five years, but where and in what application? The technical data sheet may say five years but if that is in Europe (Zone 1) you can expect a reduction of at least 25% or more depending where the graphic is placed. To ensure you don’t get caught out it is critical to have clarity on what the film is warranted and supported to do for your specific application and location.

The price difference between films only represents value if all the performance aspects are the same and if the film delivers the same outcomes across all areas from printability, application, durability to removal. Otherwise, what looks cost effective on paper is actually an expensive purchase in the long run.

If you are swayed by price consider why the product costs less. Has anything been sacrificed in order to make it so and will this impact the job? To make one product cheaper than another product, somewhere in the manufacturing or supply chain, something has to be given away by someone in order to make a product cheaper than other  like products.

Someone always has to pay for cheap and you want to make sure that it is not going to be you or your business.

“To make one product cheaper than another product, somewhere in the manufacturing or supply chain, something has to be given away by someone in order to make a product cheaper than other like products.”

Written by Denise Kirby

Denise Kirby has over 27 years experience as a supplier of self adhesive products to the sign and print industry. Initially starting out in the family business as a distributor of  consumables she went on to work for leading self adhesive manufacturers in marketing , business and product development roles across Australia and New Zealand.  She now has her own business, Kirbyco, which focuses on environmentally friendly, recyclable and sustainable print solutions.

Denise is highly passionate about the industry and enjoys writing about applications and opportunities in print in and signage with the goal of inspiring people to explore new creative and functional opportunities with film as well as educating the industry on products, trends and new innovations.


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