HP Indigo helped Diageo deliver an exclusive product experience

HP Indigo’s customized printing brought to life India’s first artisanal whisky with Diageo

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HP Indigo X Diageo
India's first artisanal Limited edition whisky

Diageo India’s leading beverage company set out to launch India’s first small-batch, artisanal craft, 100% rice whisky in just 80 days, it knew it wasn’t only the blend that had to be flawless.

“This was an opportunity to create a luxury whisky in India and a key part of our company’s premiumization strategy,” recalls Vikram Damodaran, Diageo India, chief innovation officer. “So, there was enormous pressure to get every detail – from the flavor to the packaging and product experience – perfect.”

The beautiful golden liquid blend is like no other whisky in India as it’s made of locally-sourced rice from the northern frontiers of Punjab, which then travels over 2,000 km to be matured in Goa in bourbon casks over 3 years, and then finished in PX Sherry and Cherrywood casks in a 50-year-old warehouse. This limited-edition whisky has been launched in an exclusive batch of 2,000 numbered bottles, another first for the country. To emphasize the exclusivity of its whisky, Diageo India called on Trigon Digital’s expertise and the cutting-edge HP Indigo 25K Digital Press to help it create individually numbered bottles.

HP Indigo – Delivering small-batch and variable printing at a speed

“Due to the small batch size and variable printing needed, we knew it wasn’t going to be possible to use conventional printing technology here,” says Hiren Dedhia, Diageo India’s design head. “We also needed a fast turnaround if we were to meet our extremely ambitious timeline for launching the brand—which was just 80 days.”

After weighing up the options, the team at Diageo India recognized that Trigon’s HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press would be much the best choice for its job. As digital printing doesn’t require printing plates, the HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press enables Trigon to offer its customers print runs with no minimum size, greater flexibility, and shorter lead times. It also allows Trigon to automate more production processes, helping them to deliver jobs with maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The printer’s variable data printing feature, used in combination with HP SmartStream Designer software, meant Trigon was able to easily accommodate Diageo India’s request for each bottle to feature its own unique number.

Providing exceptional color matching capabilities

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For Diageo India’s design team, HP Indigo’s ability to print on a huge range of substrates – from plastic films and foils to glass and wood – and exceptional color matching capabilities were also significant advantages.

“Even though each bottle was different, we needed our branding and the rest of the packaging to be consistent across the whole print run,” says Dedhia. Experimenting with an uncoated substrate for the first time meant the stakes were even higher for the company.

“It was a risk but HP Indigo’s ability to produce consistently amazing print quality regardless of the substrate meant we got the perfect color match we were after,” says Dedhia. “The team at our design agency Butterfly Canon was amazed at how good it was.” With the HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press, Trigon was also able to turn the job around quickly without compromising on quality, helping the company to meet its tight timeline for completing the project.

“Using the HP Indigo Press enabled us to realize our goal of giving each bottle of our limited-edition whisky its own unique number,” says Damodaran. “By doing so, we’ve been able to create an exclusive product experience that will delight whisky connoisseurs, collectors of artisanal liquors and younger generations of whisky enthusiasts who particularly appreciate hyper-personalized experiences. This approach is also helping to bolster our position as a leader in the premium alcoholic beverage market.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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