What does it mean to have intelligent packaging? Beyond the basic function of containing an item and telling what it is, brands are beginning to make packaging that’s able to communicate new in-depth information to the consumer. Sensing, recording, and detection devices that monitor changes in the product or the environment are being added to packaging.
Whoa. So does that mean your cereal is now watching you? Not exactly…
According to Peter Kallai, president and CEO of the Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association (CPEIA), how consumers shop is changing rapidly. They’re no longer accepting what a product label says without reaching for their smartphones for spontaneous research. A 2015 report by Deloitte Consulting stated that 84% of retail customers use their smartphones to research a product before or during their shopping…and that this increases the conversion rate by 40%.
What this means for you is that your product needs to have new ways to communicate with consumers through their smartphones…or you may be left behind. QR codes are the most widely used of this technology…but let’s look at some examples of other intelligent packaging and what they do.
One of the longest-standing technologies in intelligent packaging is the temperature-time indicator (TTI). These are particularly useful in the food industry because they can tell a consumer when a food product has been kept at an unsafe temperature…helping protect against food-borne illnesses. A self-adhesive is placed on a shipping container or the individual package, and changes color when temperatures are in the danger zone. TTIs can also be used to show estimated shelf lives and freshness levels.
Brands are also turning to smart packaging technologies to help protect against tampering, counterfeit, and theft. One example is Xerox Printed Memory, a printed label that offers a highly secure, less expensive anti-counterfeit measure than traditional methods. It contains up to 36 bits of rewritable memory for 68 billion possible combinations.
Another cool example of this is Issara, an affordable luxury bag company that wants to help you keep your valuables secure. Their goal is to implement GPS-tracking systems in their bags, so your bag will never get lost or stolen again.
Lumigram is a company that makes luminous fiber-optic fabric. Thin optical fibers are connected to LEDs at the end of the fabric, and a stunning illuminated textile is created.
This technology has so much potential for intelligent (and beautiful!) products. For example, every woman has struggled to find something in the depths of her handbag. A colleague of mine along with his French fashion design partner are creating a line of bags with this type of technology, on the inside of the handbags. No more digging in the dark! I know I’d like to be one of the first to jump on this.
Digital engagement with your brand
Probably the most powerful innovation in intelligent packaging is interactive technology that enhances a customer’s experience with your brand. For example, labels can contain LED lights, micro switches, and pressure sensors to give the customer a sensory experience. Anheuser-Busch has used this technology in their Oculto brand, with touch-activated LED labels.
NFC Authority is a Canadian company using this technology as well. They produce printed electronic tags for packaging that contain a software application with a cloud-based platform. They are currently being tested in wine, craft beer, and craft distilleries. The consumer simply taps the bottle with their finger and more information about the product is revealed, including opportunities for leaving ratings and reviews, and watching videos.
The smart packaging innovation is not only exciting for tech lovers and brand owners, but offers a huge opportunity to stand out on a crowded shelf. Start reading up on this trend…and get ready to hop on board because it may become the new normal way to shop!