5 Smart Packaging Trends to Look for in 2020

Smart packaging, which uses technology for functionality that goes beyond housing a product, is a high-growth industry, thanks to its ability to nimbly adapt to a demanding and rapidly changing market.

A Deloitte survey published in October 2018 details the potential for smart packaging— especially connected packaging, which can communicate with other packages or the internet—to provide unique, value-added user experiences. Zion Market Research predicts that the global market for smart packaging will reach a volume of over $48 billion by 2024.

The evolution of smartphone technology continues to create new opportunities for marketing and authentication, and consumers’ appetite for interactive brand experiences includes innovative packaging solutions.

We’ve identified 5 important trends in smart packaging that brands can leverage to achieve deeper, more meaningful connections with customers.

Smart Packaging Trend #1: Sustainability

With the environment on many people’s minds these days, sustainability is a major trend in packaging. We see openings in the market for both plastic reduction and recycling initiatives, as well as creative uses of packaging that contribute positively to the environment and to customers’ environmental awareness.

For example, ERP software giant SAP utilized Touchcode’s connected packaging technology to hand out 100% fair trade chocolate to clients at a marketing event. The chocolate came with promotional cards attached that allowed customers to connect to a website where they could click to save one square meter of forest in Panama.

Coca-Cola held a Recycling Challenge at the 2019 Active and Intelligent Packaging Association (AIPA) World Congress. The challenge focused on leveraging smart packaging to encourage consumers to recycle. Touchcode presented a “smart cap” for Coca-Cola’s beverage bottles and a connected fridge pack, both of which would be printed with invisible conductive ink that consumers could scan with a smartphone to receive information on how to recycle the bottle or details on the nearest recycling facility.

Smart Packaging Trend #2: Anti-Counterfeiting and Authentication

As social awareness grows regarding the dangers of counterfeit products, smart packaging can alleviate concerns about product integrity. Smithers Pira research, also covered in Packaging World, notes that because smart packaging technology allows authentication via smartphone, billions of smartphone users around the globe are now capable product authenticators.

Smart packaging provides authentication benefits to both consumers and a company’s supply chain. When customers purchase a product, they can simply tap the package to their phones to authenticate the item.

For example, customers who bought Burberry clothing featured in a fashion show received customized cards embedded with an invisible code that granted them access to exclusive background information about their clothing, which also served to authenticate each piece.

Smart Packaging Trend #3: Exclusive Content

Connected packaging provides access to immersive, engaging digital content that you can’t really get otherwise. For example, Mattel and Google created a virtual reality experience by giving consumers “passports” embedded with a code that granted access to unique virtual worlds that expanded consumers’ understanding of the brand and its products. Over one million headsets with multiple passports included were sold, reflecting customers’ delight at the opportunity to learn more about a product and connect with it in new ways.

Disney also added Touchcode’s code to collectible Violetta cards that could be touched to a smartphone app to unlock scenes from the Violetta show, plus dance tutorial videos that gave Violetta fans a new way to interact with the character.

Connected packaging leverages a physical product to create a digital world that enhances customers’ engagement with the product. By offering exclusive content to consumers who are already fans, marketing teams can deepen relationships, elevate brand loyalty and increase customer lifetime value.

Smart Packaging Trend #4: Couponing

Smart packaging also has the potential to make a major impact on the world of couponing, a multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S. Connected packaging offers a level of efficiency to couponing and can ensure coupons are secure, targeted to specific customers, and personalized.

For example, to celebrate its 40th anniversary, Porsche Design Group handed out cards at global Porsche Design stores and partner venues. The cards, embedded with Touchcode’s conductive ink code, unlocked digital videos and gave customers 10% off vouchers upon user registration.

Retail brands are also increasingly including digital coupons within product packaging to encourage repeat buyers. Many consumers prefer the convenience of having a coupon available on their smartphones, rather than having to carry around paper coupons in their wallets or bags.

Smart Packaging Trend #5: Brand Enhancement

In the past, brands utilized QR codes to embed interactive codes onto their packaging, but there were numerous drawbacks to the brand experience. These codes were unsightly, and package designers had to create additional space or minimize branding elements to allow for these codes. Other technologies, like RFID or NFC, create electronic waste in the environment and can become quite costly.

Today, conductive ink-based codes like Touchcode can be embedded underneath packaging graphics, so a company’s branding is not compromised. Because the code is invisible to consumers, package designers can include a company’s branding, messaging, and graphics on their packaging, without having to make space for an unattractive code that can interfere with the brand experience. 

Smart Packaging Connects the Physical and Digital Worlds

Smart packaging connects products and brands with exciting digital experiences, making packaging more personal and communicative. Smart packaging also offers opportunities for companies to make strides in sustainability and anti-counterfeiting.

Ready to learn how smart packaging can help your brand create deeper relationships with customers? Contact us today.