Vehicle livery and lettering has been a mainstay of signmaking businesses for generations, but the trend that’s truly taking the graphics world by storm is full or partial vehicle wrapping.
This technically demanding and visually creative craft is rapidly gaining traction with both corporate customers and individual vehicle owners, and an energetic and inspired community of wrappers is enjoying dynamic business growth on the back of escalating consumer demand.
For business customers, the advantages of consistent and eye-catching vehicle branding are commercial and measurable. Vehicles, from the MD’s car to the delivery fleet, are a mobile advertising medium that takes the company’s brand and message far and wide, attracting interest, building brand awareness and generating leads. Corporate vehicle decoration has come a long way from simple decals, and innovative businesses are embracing the scope of a creatively designed full vehicle wrap using printable films to transform a vehicle into a true attention-grabber.
The new success story – and a constantly renewable source of revenue potential – is the growing market for wrapping personal vehicles. Car owners are getting wise to the two-fold potential of a car wrap – to personalise and protect. The vast palette of colours and finishes now available from the leading vinyl manufacturers enables vehicle owners to realise their deepest desire for a specific colour, without limiting the eventual resale value, and with the option to change the finish for another shade when the mood takes them.
Some of the most popular transformations for luxury personal vehicles currently involve matte effect films, which lend a classy and understated exterior to a premium car. The lucrative youth market is less conservative, with younger customers seeing an opportunity to add personality and turn heads with a stand-out colour, pattern or effect – candy colours and neons for example.
Protecting an asset
For both customer types, a wrap offers more sensible advantages too, protecting the vehicle’s paintwork from scratches and scuffs, maximising the residual value of their asset. As more private car owners become aware of the affordability, aesthetic and protective benefits of wrapping, this market can be expected to accelerate quickly. For customers for whom colour change is not a motive, transparent ‘stoneguard’ vehicle protection films are now widely available from the leading vinyl manufacturers, and will attract growing interest from private and fleet owners.
As wrappers gain experience with the range of materials available, there is also a notable trend towards higher quality vinyls from leading brands such as 3M, Avery, Orafol and Arlon. While cheap alternatives from low-cost manufacturers in developing markets are available, the professionals are gaining a clear understanding of how the law of ‘you get what you pay for’ applies in the wrapping world, and the negative commercial consequences of making a false economy with the wrong material choice. High quality films with premium adhesive qualities are generally easier to apply and will yield a better overall finish and offer improved durability for the finished job. A flawless, long-lasting wrap could be the difference between word-of-mouth recommendation and repeat business, or a damaged reputation and an empty order book.
Boomtime for wraps
The market for less conventional wraps is also booming, with owners of vehicles and vessels from bikes to boats asking wrappers to personalise and protect their pride and joy. Contemporary wrapping vinyls are suitable for all manner of applications, and have the UV stability and water resistance to withstand the most demanding environmental factors and handling, although the lifespan of a boat wrap is unlikely to be as long as that of a car.
Wrap business is thriving across most geographies in the Spandex network, with particular hotspots in Germany, Australia, the UK and Switzerland, delivering overall year on year volume sales growth of about 60% for wrapping materials. Working hand in hand with the leading vinyl manufacturers, Spandex is plugged into the latest developments, whether technical or trend-led. Our customer advisors can help businesses of all kinds capitalise on this growth business, whether they are established specialist wrapping shops or more conventional graphics businesses looking for a diversification path to capitalise on their existing skills.
Customers can rely on Spandex for deep product knowhow, supplemented with accessible workshops where they can get advice on products and application tips and tricks, while our social media channels offer inspiration in the form of case studies and how-to videos. This is a dynamic and open segment of the visual communications market. Wrappers are creative people, and are as eager to showcase their work as any other visual artist.
The market will achieve its true potential as awareness grows among private vehicle owners. According to IHS automotive market data, global car sales will reach 88.6 million in 2015, so the market could be gigantic. Word is spreading, but still predominantly among true motoring enthusiasts, so the growth curve for this market could be extremely steep. Spandex and our manufacturing partners are working proactively with customers who offer vehicle wrapping services to promote the benefits to their prospective end customers, suggesting promotional strategies and providing marketing materials that wrappers can personalise to spread the word about the aesthetic and practical plusses of a high quality wrap.
With such a huge, as yet largely untapped, market, for any signmaker with experience of self-adhesive materials wrapping is a lucrative business opportunity that’s definitely worth a test drive.