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Colors in Bloom

Expanding Wrap Options with a New Audience

By Melissa Donovan

Vehicle wrap interest appeared to peak a few years ago, with print providers rushing to offer the service. While some thought opportunity was limited, the introduction of color wrap film has energized the market. For those with experience in vehicle wrapping, offering color wrap films as an additional service is easy, as the install and media type is similar.


The popularity of choosing from a rainbow of colors and textures to wrap a vehicle stems from consumer demand for personalization. More people want to stand out from the crowd and take their personal and business vehicles to new levels of uniqueness. Instead of paint, which is expensive and cannot be easily changed, adhesive-backed media is a cost-effective option.


“People want choices, the ability to change the ordinary to extraordinary. Installers want the ability to differentiate from the competition and provide the unexpected,” shares Lisa Humrich, marketing manager, Oracal USA.


In response, media manufacturers continue to expand well-known product lines with a range of colors. Particularly in the last six months, hundreds of new colors were introduced.


Demand and Conquer

As personalization becomes the norm, consumers and Fortune 500 companies look to do more. While still in its infancy, wrapping vehicles is becoming a popular option. Typical colors are not usually available from an automobile manufacturer in the stock model.


“There is an overall trend in automotives—car manufacturers tend to offer fewer color options for new cars. Together with the move towards individualization this leads to an increased demand for additional colors in car wrapping applications. More companies also see an added value in fleet graphics and want to install vinyl film in their specific company colors,” explains Laura Schied, marketing manager, Renolit.


With the ability to touch both the consumer and businesses, vehicle wrapping broadens its reach. Incidentally, it offers great turnover as well. With a wrap—versus paint—the option to remove the media is always there. It can return to its original color or change to a new one.


Robert Rundle, viscom market manager, Ritrama, says much of this movement has come from race cars, which influences fans to personalize their own vehicles. “The market for personalizing your car continues to get larger, wrapping a car in a specific color or color combination to resemble a new paint job is growing fast. Colors from race cars and high-end sports car manufacturers are heavily sought after,” he continues.


Take a Stance

Vehicle wraps in the last five to ten years continue to grow in popularity. Printing graphics and wrapping them on cars, boats, and even fleets of trucks is an ideal way for businesses to promote their company and brand while on the go. Color wrap films, generally unprinted, provide an easy way for the consumer to enter the vehicle wrap phenomenon, thus changing the direction of the vehicle wrap market as a whole.


“In the past, the demand for wraps was met by printing color on films and laminating them. The introduction of color wrap films simplifies the process and expands manufacturers’ customer bases to include the commercial and custom markets,” explains Janelle Falbe, marketing specialist, FDC Graphic Films, Inc.


Consumers open up new options for sign businesses. Color wrap films also present another avenue for media manufacturers to market to as well. As Melissa Cox, sales manager, Hexis USA, shares, vehicle wrapping is one of the fastest growing parts of the industry and is no longer related to just signs. Hexis customers that were in the automotive sector are now professional vehicle wrap installers.


“The industry realized that the vehicle wrap market is not just a fad, but it’s a new revenue stream to support existing business. Whether you have a traditional sign and wrap shop or a vehicle accessories/detailing shop, the chances are you have the resources in house in the way of personnel and square footage,” agrees Jason Yard, marketing training specialist, MACtac Graphic Products.


The largely untapped consumer angle provides opportunity for growth. Humrich cites the International Sign Association’s 2012 State of the Industry survey, which had more than 50 respondents predicting growth in vehicle wraps, graphics, sign installation, and maintenance. In response, vinyl manufacturers meet this demand with more products—or in this case, color.


Color Launch

Media manufacturers expand current color wrap film portfolios with new colors and textures at a rapid pace. In just 2012 the colors have gone far past the traditional red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet found in a rainbow.


3M Commercial Graphics’ Scotchprint Wrap Film Series 1080 recently added new colors including matte pink, matte blue metallic, matte orange, gloss red metallic, and satin black in July 2012. In January 2012 brushed black metallic was added after customers voted it as their favorite choice. The additions increase the total colors in the line to 39. Series 1080 is a removable cast film for vehicle detailing, decoration, and full wraps. The product is designed with a pressure-activated adhesive that allows it to slide and be repositioned until firm pressure is applied; allowing for easy removability.


At the end of 2011, Avery Dennison Graphics and Reflective Solutions introduced the Supreme Wrapping Film series with 33 different colors and in several finishes. This was expanded in 2012 with the addition of 13 new matte and brushed metallic finishes along with the debut of Conform Chrome Vehicle Accent Film, which allows consumers to highlight different features on a vehicle such as mirrors and bumpers. The dual layer film combines both color and clear protective layers providing a paint-like finish that is both durable and dazzling. The film’s conformability allows it to install quickly and stay down over curves and recesses.


In March 2012 FDC launched Series 1025 Air Advantage color films, which feature the Air Advantage adhesive system for application without bubbles or wrinkles. It is a 3- to 5-mil matte finish or patterned cast PVC vinyl film, in various colors for wraps. The film is available in 30- and 60-inch widths. Options include clear, white, black, and charcoal.


Over the last few months Hexis added multiple colors to its portfolio. Textured leather is now available in orange, black, and brown. New matte colors are available in pink, metallic black, metallic white, yellow, orange, green, metallic blue, brown, metallic silver, and metallic brown—with matte red out later this year.


MACtac’s MACmark Tuning Film line, introduced in October 2011, includes five carbon fiber colors including black, white, silver, gold, and graphite, plus matte white and matte black. The faces are 6.9-mil cadmium-free polymeric vinyl. The black matte and white matte have a repositionable adhesive with a zero-glare matte finish resistant to fingerprints and smudges. The carbon fiber tuning film is coated with a high-performance micro-structured permanent, acrylic adhesive for easy application. In October the company added about 30 colors and unique finishes to the line.


Oracal recently introduced 57 new colors to the Oracal Series 970RA Wrapping Cast Film with Rapid Air Technology including dark red, soft pink, aluminum metallic, sea blue, and matte mint. This brings the total to 96 vibrant metallic, gloss, and matte colors in the portfolio. Featuring a solvent-based, repositionable adhesive, Series 970RA film provides exceptional dimensional stability and conformability over curved surfaces, rivets, and corrugations. It offers long-term removability from painted surfaces and does not require an overlaminate.


Renolit manufactures calendered films. Its customers add adhesive and liner to the product to sell to distributors and end users in the graphic arts. The company has several new color ranges. The soft, calendered PVC films are principally manufactured in white or transparent or colored with high-gloss, matte, satin, or semi-matte surface finishes.


Ritrama offers its 500 Series Opaque Wrapping Film, which comes in 15 colors including kandy apple red, drifting orange, modena yellow, and hot wheels blue. It’s a 3.2-mil cast vinyl film with vehicle wrap adhesive and Air Flow liner.


Additions and Subtractions

With new colors and textures being concocted monthly, if not weekly, choices may become overwhelming. Colors that aren’t successful tend to become discontinued—however this is rare, as the main focus right now is to continue adding more colors.


“Just as in fashion, certain colors and textures will fall out of favor. Eventually, certain colors will be phased out, but for now, having the right amount of options is important,” explains Douglas Blackwell, business development manager, 3M.


It also depends on the manufacturer. FDC, Hexis, and Oracal have no plans to discontinue any colors at this time. On the other hand, Renolit and Ritrama rotate colors out if they are not selling as well as others.


Todd Hain, marketing communications manager, Avery Dennison, points out that color wrap films, which are in an early growth stage, will quickly expand in color options—but the demand for matte black and white still remain consistent. While consumers are now just learning about color wrap films and the options, it’s important to offer tried and true colors and finishes as well.


Pricing Questions

With a variety of media it’s essential to closely examine pricing. Much like shopping for a shirt in a retail store, certain colors or textures may cost more. This is often the result of the manufacturing process and materials used to create the color wrap film.


For example, Ritrama’s kandy apple red carries a higher cost because the film requires a double pass through manufacturing to achieve a metallic look. Additionally, textured media that is more expensive to manufacture has a purchase cost that is directly higher. This would include media such as carbon fiber or a product with a brushed metal effect.


As new colors in these media series come to market, it’s evident that cost is an issue with all of the competition. However, Yard says once the market is saturated with options the prices will come down. New colors are primarily launched to keep up with demand and provide more offerings, not to inundate the buyer with cost concerns.


Print Production

Color wrap films are generally not printed on, and strictly used for wrapping a vehicle as is. This allows for the construction of the media to fully hold up and the intended color stay true. Many manufacturers’ products are not advised to be printed on. Some do offer printable media lines. In these cases, it is important to realize the end print will differ between each film.


“Most inks are transparent, so when printing on orange for example, the ink will alter the finish of the vinyl. We have customers printing on textured brushed aluminum all the time and the black ink comes out a bit grey,” explains Cox.


MACtac’s MACmark Tuning Films are printable, but the ink life is limited because a laminate is not recommended. “The lighter colors accept and show ink very well, but the darker the shade the less the ink shows up,” advises Yard.


Color Wrapped

While there is the option to print on the vinyl, color wrap films are generally recommended for wrapping only. It is why there are so many colors now entering the market place—from apple red to forest green. Instead of achieving the color via ink, media is strictly the source. While some may think this a bland alternative to a graphic, others looking for something less flashy are keen to wrap their vehicle in an untraditional color not found at a car dealership.


Consumers aren’t the only audience. Businesses may utilize color wrap films on a fleet of vehicles using a branding color, something only achieved if the color is available. Luckily, with the continued roll out of new colors in each and every portfolio, this is quickly becoming a reality.


Color wrap films are changing the vehicle wrap market. Not only are they offering new avenues for existing sign businesses, but they are presenting automotive dealers and car detailing shops with more options as well. There is plenty of untapped potential in the vehicle wrap market and the expansion of color wrap films confirms this.


Nov2012, Digital Output

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