Leading the Way on Smart Packaging

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In case you missed it, last week our very own Packaging Innovation Director, Tricia Sime, presented at LabelExpo. Her co-presentation, titled Printing Highly Functional Smart Labels and Packaging to Increase Consumer Engagement, was a case study of sorts on our recent illuminated labels for Oculto – an alcoholic beverage produced by AB-InBev. To elaborate a bit more on what Tricia discussed, we thought we would follow up with her on the increasing interest of smart packaging.

What do you consider “smart packaging”?

Tricia: Smart packaging is any packaging format that incorporates advanced technologies to provide greater functionality than conventional packaging. For years companies have used passive smart packaging to extend product shelf life and quality, including the use of temperature indicators and barrier technology. Now active innovations such as printed electronics and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities are on the rise as advances in materials science allow for smaller components.

What would you tell brand owners is the first step in discovering smart packaging options for their products?

Tricia: Really it comes down to partnering with your suppliers and understanding the dynamics of what they are willing to collaborate on. In the case of the illuminated label we knew we’d have to involve our supply chain and find practical partners that could help transition this project from concept to reality. We strongly encourage companies to increase their knowledge of “what’s possible” by proactively involving partners early in their discussions of package and label development.

What’s the value proposition for brand owners when they consider smart packaging?

Tricia: The global demand for smart labels and packaging is forecasted to expand 7.3% annually to $4.0 billion by 2019. As a whole, smart packaging is just beginning to make its way to the consumers. For brand owners this brings about a great opportunity to better educate themselves on the realm of opportunity that is available to them. Ultimately it will be the companies that choose to be on the forefront of these types of innovations that become the early adopters and set the stage for long-term smart packaging success.

What’s next? Where do you see smart packaging headed in the future?

Tricia: I think we’ll see interactive labels with printed electronic pathways, paper batteries, micro switches, LED lights and pressure sensors continuing to make their way on to store shelves. Many of these smart packaging concepts are in the beginning stages of fruition and will only continue to scale up as demands increase. Other growing trends in smart packaging include NFC, beacons, augmented reality and brand security features. Any opportunities for brands to break the mold on sharing real-time, relevant information with the consumer. As far as completely new innovations? Only time can tell!

See her presentation in full for yourself on our YouTube page or hit play below.

Stay up to date on Tricia’s latest developments by subscribing to our innovation newsletter.

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