Jonathan Graunke
Vice President, UV/EB Technology, Asst. Director, Research & Development
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example of cold foil label

Three Advantages of Cold Foil Applications

How cold foil printing contributes to shelf appeal, sustainability, and brand security.

Besides eye-catching features, there are cold foil solutions for brand protection, premiumization, and sustainability goals. The shiny, glossy, metallic effect from using cold foils adds an eye-catching and luxury appearance to products and packaging, helping them stand out among the thousands of other products on store shelves.

Additionally, cold foil is often a more sustainable solution than metalized polyester film or specialty foil board. Holographic images can also be incorporated into cold foil for added brand protection. INX International offers printable cold foil adhesives and inks and coatings designed for use over the foil.

Advantage #1:  Premiumization

Consumers encounter a wide variety of similar products, which means that brands with “luxury” or “premium” products need to do all they can to make them stand out from their competitors. Brands often use foil because of its glossy, high-visibility effects. Research has shown that packaging decorated with foil rates more than 80% higher than non-foil packaging in quality, appeal, value, and brand awareness.1 Foiled packaging also attracts attention 44% faster and retains attention 16% longer than identical packages without foil.2

Premiumization is trending in a number of industries but is perhaps most obvious in wine, beer, and spirits as well as beauty and personal care products. Although the wine and spirits markets have been using foil packaging for a long time, today more labels are being produced in a sheet-fed format with cold foil.3 Foil labels give wine and spirit bottles a distinctive, upscale look. The foil labels are durable and often waterproof. For example, the well-known whisky brand, Crown Royal uses cold foil in conjunction with ink and varnishing techniques, providing the iconic look and adding tremendous value to the brand.

Cold foil is also an effective look for beauty brands that want to position their products as luxurious, sophisticated, and premium. Cosmetics packaging is a highly competitive market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.7% over the forecast period (2021-2026).4  Part of what makes foil such a popular choice for cosmetics is the classic look it gives the packaging. Metallics are a timeless choice for many cosmetic brands and are a relatively simple packaging effect that conveys the elegance and luxury that most cosmetic brands desire. Examples of cosmetic and personal care brands that are employing cold foiling on their packaging include Crest 3DWhitestrips, L'Oréal’s Age Perfect products, Clinique, and more.

The special effects that enhance shelf and consumer appeal such as cold foil adhesives are all possible with INX technologies. In addition to the fine detail achieved with the INX offset printed adhesives, it is possible to achieve a very high sheen and/or gloss on the foils via the use of rheology modified flexo adhesives, where the nipping process further smooths the higher volume adhesive film weights. INX also offers a nip then cure option for flexo adhesives that allow for fine line foiling by presetting the adhesive to minimize the spread once nipped.

Advantage #2:  Sustainability

Is cold foil sustainable? Environmental sustainability is a growing imperative for consumers and brands. At INX, we often get questions about whether cold foil is sustainable, and the answer is that yes, today, there are plenty of metallic, special-effect options to help brands stand-out with minimal environmental impact. Cold foil applications do not prevent paper from being repulped, recycled, or de-inked.

A 2021 Foil & Specialty Effects Association study found that cold foil is 100% pulpable and recyclable.5 The application of cold foil is typically performed on-press in line with printing and requires no up-front tooling or dies. Cold foil can also be overprinted with traditional, UV, or hybrid inks and be used in conjunction with recycled papers and paperboards. Cold foil is a lightweight and sustainable alternative to laminates because the foiled package doesn’t contain any polyester film. Only the metal is transferred so there isn’t any mylar laminate which makes it possible to recycle the package and/or paper.

Advantage #3:  Brand Protection

Counterfeit products are a significant and growing problem which impact supply chain security, consumer safety, and a brand’s profitability. Dave Sandello, Director, Sales and Business Development at VerifyMe said “If people are putting something in or on themselves, it can be a big deal given that counterfeits are often made using unsafe materials, toxic chemicals, or may include allergens without labeling them as such. Depending upon the product being counterfeited or diverted, there can be serious health and safety concerns for consumers.” In addition to getting a bad reputation, counterfeited products can break the customer's trust in a brand and push them to switch to another. According to Retail Dive, more than 60% of consumers lose trust in a brand after unwittingly purchasing fakes.6

Cold foil, along with the Cast and Cure™ process, makes it possible to achieve cost-effective holographic effects and brand protection features - even for short runs. Compared to the hot foiling process, the initial costs for stamping dies and additional embossing are eliminated. Additionally, cold foil applications do not result in any distortion or degradation of the substrate, and counterfeit-proof security features such as nano-text and microtext are visible and can be authenticated.

Conclusion: Cold Foil Offers Many Benefits

At INX, we work closely with brand managers and packaging companies to help them address consumers’ preferences for luxury, recyclability, and authentic products and packaging.

Luxurious, eye-catching packaging doesn’t require a tradeoff between sustainability and recyclability. Cold foil applications offer a premium, aesthetically appealing design, are 100 percent recyclable, and can incorporate brand protection features to prevent counterfeiting. INX International’s printable cold foil adhesives, inks, and coatings are designed to provide brand-differentiating special effects that appeal to the senses and enhance shelf appeal.

1Perception Research Services. Foil Stamping Strengthens Brand Identity. 2004.

2Foil and Specialty Effects Association (FSEA). An Initial Study into the High-Visibility Enhancements on Shelf Presence. 2014.

3Cold Foil: Best Applications, New Markets and Debunked Myths

4Cosmetic Packaging Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021 - 2026)

5FSEA Press Release. 2021.

6Over a quarter of US shoppers have purchased counterfeit goods: Report. Published Dec. 9, 2019.

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