European Label Forum 2017 - Berlin

De Ruijter Strategy conducted a scenario planning project 'Label Industry Scenarios for 2020-2025' and hosted the scenario workshop at the FINAT ELF in Berlin.

The European Label Forum (ELF) is the annual summit for business leaders, media representatives and stakeholders along the labelling value chain in Europe. The ELF is hosted by FINAT (European association for the self-adhesive label industry) and takes place once a year. Its programme extends over three days and offers a unique source of knowledge, experience and networking key to the strategic success of label businesses.

These are turbulent times for the European label industry. Whereas short term prospects remain positive at the beginning of 2017, there are longer term drivers at stake which are causing uncertainty for owners and managers about the longer term future for their business. Who would have thought only a few years ago that world trade and free markets within Europe would be at risk today following the chain of ‘political’ events? At the same time, merger and acquisition activity has accelerated as label companies, outsiders and investors are strengthening their footprint in an integrated world of labels and packaging. Moreover, the ‘Industry 4.0’ technology revolution is having a disruptive impact on products, processes and business models. And what about the effect of ageing employees retiring from the labour market, making new employees scarce and expensive?

In preparation of the ELF De Ruijter Strategy conducted a scenario planning project, assessing the impact of these major driving forces on the label industry via interviews with experts from different angles. On the 2nd day of the ELF in Berlin, the results of this assessment were presented and discussed in two parallel sessions of the workshop Label Industry Scenarios for 2020-2025, hosted by Paul de Ruijter and Renate Kenter. Based on the imaginary case of label printer Enrico and his fictitious company FinatCo, the 200 participants were invited to reflect on how to prepare for four possible scenarios:

  • 1. Fragmentation: bilateral relationships are a key factor of success in protectionist Europe
  • 2. Consolidation: label companies have become a ‘return on investment’ for big companies
  • 3. Tech disruption: an Uber-like ‘market place’ platform is entering the label industry
  • 4. Employee shortage: young talent is scarce and wages rise

To be able to present the scenarios in an inspiring way, De Ruijter Strategy worked together with students from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. They created unique visualisations, turning abstract themes into graspable images that encouraged discussion at the scenario workshop.
On day 3 of the ELF, the outcome of the scenario workshop was presented and discussed during the FINAT Business Debate. Paul de Ruijter invited the panel of three opinion leading top executives into a debate with the audience, together with his ‘side kick’: incoming FINAT president Chris Ellison.