Outlook Group has come a long way from its origins printing baseball and Trivial Pursuit cards during the early 1980s. “The company has definitely evolved and grown from there,” says Joel Schmidt, marketing development director.
Outlook Group prides itself on flexibility, transitioning from printing sports collector and game cards to participating in the direct mail and customer loyalty arenas. “That industry changed with the rise of the internet and smart phones,” Schmidt recalls.
Today, the Neenah, Wis.-based company is a leader in the packaging and printing solutions industry and works with clients in a variety of segments, including food and beverage, retail hard goods, medical products and online retail distribution.
Outlook Group specializes in printing flexible packaging, paperboard and pressure-sensitive labels. It also is known for its work in contract packaging, Schmidt says. “Today, we’re solely focused on packaging and labeling,” he says. “The packaging industry is growing.”
The industry is evolving, driven by technology, demographics and economics, says Kevin Hayes, executive vice president. Changes in those areas are increasing demand for safety information, convenience, more single-serve packaging in the retail market and a significant rise in the number of dollar-store retailers, he says. Simply put, there’s a greater need for more and different types of packages than several years ago, he says.
In the 1970s, for example, approximately 70 percent of dinners were eaten in a traditional setting – at a table with other family members, Hayes says. That tradition has greatly diminished. Today, a majority of Americans rely on carryout food or single-serve entrees for dinner, he says. The switch has led to big changes in the packaging industry. “Our business is changing dramatically,” Hayes says.
Additionally, dollar-store retailers – a retail segment that has grown significantly over the past few years - are demanding inexpensive packaging that remains attractive and appealing to customers. Hayes adds that there is a trend in the market for the greater use of customized packaging.
Outlook Group has responded to the changes by installing new presses designed to optimize small-quantity runs, Hayes says. The company also expects to add hybrid digital printing capabilities to the mix within the next few months to help improve cost efficiencies for its customers, he says.
Outlook Group describes itself as a full-solution packaging manufacturer that understands customers’ unique needs in targeted segments and rejects the notion that one solution fits all, Schmidt says. The company’s work in paperboard packaging features printed folding cartons and other paperboard products for a variety of market segments including food and beverage, consumer healthcare packaging, health and beauty, consumer goods, personal care and direct mail. Outlook Group works closely with clients to develop custom packaging to meet specific packaging needs.
Meanwhile, the company’s expertise in flexible packaging printing helps companies build their brands by providing multiple packaging options, Schmidt says. Benefits of flexible packaging include ease of use, sustainability and high-impact graphics, he says. Additionally, flexible packaging can save on space, weight and shipping costs, he says.
Outlook Group’s diverse range of labeling capabilities, including paper and film pressure-sensitive labels, shrink sleeves and promotional labels, allows the company to customize packaging solutions that best fits a client’s needs.
Outlook Group’s proprietary Microliner product is the leader in thin liner label solutions, providing sustainability and operational savings, Schmidt says.
Additionally, the company provides variable data labels that meet companies’ needs for product security and traceability, logistics tracking or chain of custody. Variable data printing can also be used to create personalized marketing pieces and scratch-off game pieces.
Outlook Group also leverages its experience to serve as a complete contract packaging solution provider. Outlook is ISO 13485 certified to package medical devices in a clean-room environment. Its diverse capabilities allow the company to provide end-to-end solutions ranging from sampling or promotional programs to full-service production, Schmidt says.