The Smart Packaging Industry Is Growing: What You Need to Know, & Should You Consider It For Your Brand?

Packaging, like all things, is experiencing a revolution. What was once just a vector to protect whatever items were for sale via shipping, handling, and transporting, the packaging is now almost as integral to a product’s success as whatever’s inside.

If you don’t believe us, check out YouTube, where you’ll see plenty of videos of people taking their time “unboxing” something, even if it’s just a bag of tortilla chips.

With so many choices on the shelves or online, there are many options out there, and consumers have all the power to pick. So standing out against the competition is mission-critical. 

Experiential packaging is crucial because it provides the tangible product with a moment of that “wow factor” that every marketing team is continually searching for, and one of the best ways to do so is by embracing technology in packaging

But how does a brand mix the digital with the tactile? Through smart packaging. 

What is smart packaging?

Smart packaging takes regular packaging and links it into your digital ecosystem through active and intelligent packaging. The benefits of innovative packaging are apparent because it protects products from when they leave the manufacturing facility till they reach the final location. 

These safeguard against moisture, harmful environmental agents, and or light that can affect the product. This helps make your product last longer and keep the brand trustworthy in the eyes of consumers. 

Smart Packaging Examples

Active packaging improves storing and shipping, as well as the shelf life, lifecycle, and product quality while still in the package. 

On the technology side this type of packaging controls temperature, protecting whatever’s inside from the surroundings, or removes harmful elements that could affect your product. 

Some examples of this type of packaging include: 

  • Gas-scavenging
  • Moisture control
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Temperature control

Intelligent packaging adds functions that enhance product value, which improves customer experience. Things like NFC tags or serialized QR codes, which make transportation more manageable.

It also allows the consumer to scan the code and log into the world the company creates via things like direct sales, brand value, product value, product use ideas, or just links to social media to make liking and following easier. 

Because the space is digital, a brand’s options are limitless. 

Besides the fact that smart packaging is the future of the packaging industry, it has many benefits that could help enhance your brand value, product value, and product lifecycle and attract customers.

Key Benefits of Using Smart Packaging for Your Brand

There are many benefits of smart packaging for your brand:

  • Informing processes along the supply chain through logistics, storage, and sales
  • Lowering costs through intelligent packaging
  • Making transportation and storage more effortless
  • Eliminating bulky materials and extra packaging
  • Making products lightweight and durable
  • Easier storage and shipping
  • Offering a unique selling point
  • Increasing appeal with smart design or splashy colors and fonts
  • Better marketing and brand recognition
  • Reflecting customers’ investment, quality, and confidence in the brand
  • Eco-friendly and respect for the environment

Current Smart Packaging Trends You Should Know

One of the opportunities for smart packaging is innovation. Many companies are taking the abilities of the serialized QR code and using it to let customers enter their explicitly branded world. 

Courage Worldwide Coffee used serialized QR codes to help support a noble cause:  rescuing young girls from human trafficking.

The chocolate brand Milka kicked off an AR-driven Christmas wrapper that counted down the days till Christmas, complete with interactive games and daily reasons to check out their site, which kept the brand top of mind during a crowded holiday season.

Johnny Walker connected their bottles via an NFC tag that let customers know the age and authenticity of the liquor, fighting off counterfeiting and, once again, keeping customers informed through the branded app on their smartphones. 

Other companies are jumping on packaging like this because when someone scans the serialized QR code, it heat maps the information, giving the company real-time data about where their products are selling. 

How to Maximize Smart Packaging Solutions

It’s a cliché phrase, but for once, it holds weight: think outside the box.

Companies utilize innovative packaging by offering serialized QR codes – a completely unique “thumbprint” which differs from one back to the next – which work through condition monitoring and location tracking, giving consumers the information they need on where their product is at the pallet or crate level. 

If someone ordered a crate, this technology allows tracking of the product in case it was lost, stolen, or damaged. 

For green businesses, there’s also the benefit of offering information on how to exactly recycle something so it’s cleaned and put in the correct bin, whether trash or recycling, depending on the contamination level from use. 

In Europe, they’re experimenting with a “digital watermark” that allows cameras to scan the information and give users everything they need when the time comes. 

Technology is hyper-critical to everything we do now, and packaging is no different. Smart packaging can be a massive next step in how your brand is perceived globally through the investment of informing and educating, and potentially entertaining customers and retailers. 

Let’s talk if you’re curious about how to level up your packaging. ePac has worked with many innovative, cool companies; this is only the beginning. There are lots of benefits to smart packaging. Let’s find out what’s next.