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The Potential Behind Smart Packaging

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by Sarah Thuet | Last Updated: May 7, 2018

When you think of product packaging what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s the thick plastic that always stood between me and a new toy when I was young. You know, the one that was nearly indestructible to any open attempt (especially those safety scissors)? Thankfully, packaging has come a long way and is no longer just about keeping the product intact. Brands are starting to embrace the power and opportunity in packaging.

Up until this point, the term smart packaging has focused on two different aspects: active packaging and intelligent packaging. Active packaging was developed to extend the shelf life of food items, and extend the time period in which these products are considered “high quality”. It typically uses a physical element that helps keep perishable items fresh (think: those little sachets that may be attached to the top of your deli meat packaging). These elements interact with the product to actively maintain its quality. Alternatively, intelligent packaging exists to monitor the food product and report information regarding freshness to the consumer. Although both of these have been beneficial innovations to the packaging industry, it’s now time to give a new meaning to the term. Imagine leveraging the data and information that Active and Intelligent packaging methods provide, and putting it in a consumer-friendly format? We’re not too far off from seeing this concept come to life...and it’s called Smart Packaging.

Instead of simply being used to monitor and adjust the environment food is kept in, smart packaging can act just as smart technologies do–using sensors, databases, and wireless access to collaboratively sense, adapt, and provide information regarding food freshness, temperature, origin, and more! And the best way to provide this information to today’s consumers is–of course–via their mobile device. By adding a quick scan (NFC or QR code) or text method to product packaging, food suppliers can provide a wealth of product-specific information to their consumer–building trust and brand rapport along the way.

By creating smarter packaging, brands are able to engage their customers on mobile in a new and innovative way while also promoting repurchasing. According to a 2016 survey by Dimensional Research, the adoption of advanced packaging is growing rapidly and nearly two-thirds of those polled see packaging as an important part of their brand experience.

Not sure how you could integrate technology into your packaging? Check out these use cases, and explore a few brands that are already doing amazing things with smart packaging.

ThinFilm and Johnnie Walker have already partnered to make this technology a reality. The companies created a label that extended from over the seal of the bottle and down the back that contained an NFC tag. This tag would record and store data so that when tapped, it could alert the consumer if the bottle had been tampered with–now, consumers don’t have to worry about purchasing a bottle that has been altered in any way.

Packaging is about so much more than just protecting the product or displaying static information–it’s an opportunity to create interactive experiences then enhance product quality and grow brand rapport. By creating interactive aspects to formerly stagnant aspects of our lives, we have the opportunity to create a brand-consumer relationship like never before.  

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