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07-11-18 - Jules Lejeune, Managing Director FINAT

Sweet Sixty

It seems only like last year that we celebrated our Golden Jubilee in the city of our birth, Paris, back in 2008, when FINAT’s commemorative 50th anniversary book ‘United in Labels’ was published. An editorial team of four Honorary FINAT Members -- Mans Lejeune, Ron Spring, Mike Fairley, and Tony White -- had spent the preceding year researching and documenting the rich history of the label industry in Europe and its pan-European trade association FINAT.

Sadly, two of these four musketeers are no longer with us today, but the fruit of their work offers a lasting memory of our organisation.

A wonderful experience

Having been in office since 1998 myself, two tasks were assigned to me by the team. The first was to complete the last decade of the association’s 50-year storyline: the transition from the 20th to the 21st century. It was a wonderful experience to review and reflect on these ten years, on the learning curve that FINAT had experienced during this transition, and the impact on me personally. It made me proud to have been given the opportunity to serve this GREAT organisation, and to succeed my own father in the role he had performed since 1969.

Back to the Future

My second task was more challenging: to write an epilogue that also explored the prospects for the coming decade. I have always liked working with scenarios, as they help you to project possible future developments onto today’s reality. It is fun to do this kind of ‘reverse roadmapping’ -- in fact, to star in your own version of Back to the Future!

But back in 2008, what did we know about the technology revolution that would impact us? -- Wikipedia tells us that in June 2008, Apple launched its first iPhone 3G. Linked-in had been around since 2002, Facebook just since 2004, and Twitter had only been tweeting for two years. And where iPhone fundamentally changed the Internet of People, the ongoing digitisation, automation and Industry 4.0 have now made the Internet of Things the next big challenge for organisations.

In June 2008, little did we realise the extent of the global financial crisis that the world economy was about to suffer. Ten years later, the global economy is still recovering. Underlying economic tensions about global inequalities have been reinforced by the social impact of the refugee crisis and, ‘as we speak’, free trade, multilateralism and globalisation are being challenged by protectionism, populism and nationalist tendencies.

Six trends: which have matured ten years later?

Against this background, let me revisit the six trends that I noted in 2008:

  1. From supply- to demand-driven: under the influence of competitive market conditions concerning sourcing of labels and packaging, label printers would reposition themselves as solutions providers.
  2. From national to European, to global: with the EU expansion from 15 to 27 member states between 2005 and 2007, helped by ICT, the geographic scope of FINAT would broaden accordingly.
  3. From baby boom to the new generation: in 2008, the first baby boomers (born 1946-64) were going into retirement. To facilitate the transition, FINAT founded the Young Managers Club.
  4. From members to subscribers: technology and generation change would create a new reality for associations, with the emphasis shifting from ‘collective ownership’ to ‘what’s in it for me?’
  5. Incorporating newly-emerging markets: experienced in managing market diversity in Europe, FINAT would be connecting the label community globally (next to the National Associations Board in Europe, FINAT would later be a co-founder of the L9)
  6. From economy to ecology driven: the EU’s leading role in setting the international regulatory framework for packaging and the environment would also impact FINAT’s role as ‘industry advocate’.

I leave it up to you as the reader of this Yearbook to judge the accuracy of these projections. However, trend #3, on integrating the next generation into our industry’s future, is today a top priority for the European label industry, and FINAT’s Sweet Sixty anniversary Yearbook is therefore zooming in on #LABELicious.

I wish you good reading!

Jules Lejeune

Managing Director