Labelexpo Brussels 2009 stood up to the test of trying times. A few months before the event, the show organizers were a worried lot. Bookings were not a problem as they had a higher no. of exhibitors numbering 544 compared to the 511 in 2007. In fact another hall had to be added to accommodate the increase. The worry was to get enough visitors to justify the investment made by the exhibitors. Termed as the largest label show on earth, a befitting and aggressive marketing campaign was put in place. The new hall that was added was a theme hall featuring the latest developments in digital printing! Going with the trend, the marketing campaign was built up by sending personalized mailers to printers across the globe using digital printing! There was a concentrated effort to prove the point that the economic downturn in at least the label industry was tapering off. The visitors came and showed their resolve to bring about growth and shine in the industry. The number of visitors was marginally lower then the previous show by 2% and stood at  24169, but the quality of visitors were very focused and knew what they had come looking for. They came from 125 countries, making the show to be a truly global label event. The exhibitors were not disappointed.Leading Indian label printers visited the show and were evident by their interest in newer technologies. Machine suppliers were tight lipped on how many printers or who were in the market to actually shop for new equipment. Our label printers who have braved the storm are now cautious yet getting into the expansion mode. It is evident that they are all now looking at either newer technologies or new innovations. Their intense discussions with suppliers in the digital section were obvious. The young Annunciation brothers at Janus International in Mumbai India were the first ones in the narrow web label industry to acquire the HP Indigo Label press but then following the slowdown there was a lull thereafter even though digital presses continued to be installed by label printers around the world. At Brussels, leading the industry from the front and setting the trend for future, Amar Chhajed of Webtech Labels bought a Xeicon digital Press with online finishing and decorating capabilities. If you recall that in this column in April 2009 I wrote, “Label printers at this juncture should use the opportunity to innovate and use the full capabilities of their equipment to develop new products that would add value for them as well as for the users.” Amar went a step ahead and also bought a Longford Botham Booklet inserter! That is the way to go!IPEX South Asia 2009 was held in Mumbai in October 2009. It was a rather small show and visitors travelling from far and near were probably expecting more from the show as they felt that after an hour there was nothing much to see. What is interesting is that it was an outrightly digital print show. Over 50% of the space was occupied by companies like HP, Xerox, Epson, Cannon and Kodak. The visitor profile was however very interesting. Industry leaders were seen popping in and out of the show even if it was for a very small time. The show was small but was always busy. I guess it was the strong brand that pulled the high profile visitors in. During this period HP, the industry leader in digital Print technology organized, “The HP Infotrends conference” at Grand Hyatt Hotel. Spread over two days with 20 speakers the show attracted 200 participants. I was pleasantly surprised to note the presence of leading label printers at the event. LMAI President Vivek Kapoor, Gururaj from Wintek Bangalore, Gautam Kothari from Interlabels, industry stalwarts like Narendra Prachuri of Pragati, Hyderabad and Gautham Pai of Manipal Press were amongst those who attended. Truly the buzzword in the label industry appears to be…DIGITAL!Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008