Demand for labels in the US is projected to increase 3.8% annually to $19.7 billion in 2019. Since labels serve a breadth of applications, gains will be fueled by overall economic expansion, population increases, and a healthy outlook for consumer spending. Solid growth in the dominant pressure sensitive segment will reflect versatility of applications as well as suitability for value added products such as smart labels. The maturing of some applications along with increasingly intense competition in primary packaging applications with other label types, especially heat-shrink and in-mold labels (IML), will moderate growth. Among competing label technologies, heat-shrink and IML are expected to experience the most rapid growth through 2019. Analyst Esther Palevsky also notes that though they will remain “an important component of the label mix, glue-applied labels will face further losses to pressure sensitive labels, even in traditional strongholds such as wine, spirits, and specialty beverages.” These and other trends are presented in Labels, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. (, a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

Primary packaging, which represented almost 50% of demand in 2014, is the leading application for labels. While gains will be aided by greater use of higher value labels, including security labels for pharmaceuticals and larger, full-body labels, prospects will be held back by the maturity of some applications along with expanded use of flexible packaging, which typically utilizes direct printing rather than labels.

Secondary labeling and labels used in mailing and shipping are projected to achieve the fastest growth through 2019. Gains in secondary labeling will be promoted by increases in retail sales and expanding identification and tracking needs in institutional, transportation, and distribution markets. Continued strong expansion for Internet shopping will fuel increases in related package shipping activity, which will propel growth for labels in mailing and shipping uses. However, address labels will see continued declines based on further contraction in the volume of items being mailed in light of increased electronic communication. Industrial label market growth will benefit from ongoing identification, tracking, and instructional needs but will be held back by decelerated manufacturing output increases following the recovery from the 2007-2009 recession.