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Credit by Mintel

As technology connects and innovates packaging in the virtual world, consumers demand eco-friendly solutions to clean up the real world. Multiple technologies are enabling brands to connect physical packaging to the virtual world.

Connected packaging is seeing renewed interest, driven by growth in ownership of connected devices worldwide and advancement in technologies that can link packaging to the online world.

Brands today have a wealth of options to connect virtually with packaging, including QR codes and other graphic markers, near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), bluetooth, and augmented reality (AR).

Connected packaging creates a marketing opportunity, bringing the engagement and interaction of the online world to the shopper moment, potentially influencing and driving

purchase. In the home, such connections can increase brand engagement, increase product

use and add an experiential element to product interactions.

1. What's in it for the consumer?

Connected packaging can add value for the consumer by offering unique shopping experiences, meeting consumers’ needs for interaction and personalising the shopper moment. Such connections can deliver unique experiences and enable omnichannel shopping. Connected packaging can be used to build the brand story, provide specific product information and deliver promotional offers and discounts.

2. What's in it for the brand?

Connected packaging can enable differentiation of a product from its competitors on store shelves. Not only does this extend the potential for communicating product attributes, but linking consumers to an online space can create a direct connection to shoppers handling the product.

Connected packaging also offers significant data collection benefits. Many consumers are willing to share their information when accessing online content, enabling brands, and the agencies they work with, to track consumer-pack interaction in real time. This can be used in a number of ways; for example to build consumer profiles, measure campaign performance or to provide real time feedback on marketing activities.

3. Trend in action

3.1. QR codes and other digital markers

Digital markers are printed patterns that can activate an action, such as opening a webpage on a smartphone. QR codes are the most well known digital markers, however, many brands or service providers have created their own proprietary markers. These include Snapchat’s Snapcodes, Amazon’s SmileCodes, CocaCola’s sip & scan marks and Spotify Codes to name a few.

Of all these digital codes, it is QR codes that have become the most widespread. In 2018, Asia Pacific had the highest regional use of QR codes on consumer packaged goods (CPG)


3.2. Near field communication

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a simple tag that can be incorporated into packaging. By tapping an NFC-enabled pack with a smartphone, the consumer can launch branded content such as videos, or simply be directed to product information. A benefit of NFC tags is that there is no need for the consumer to download a specific app to their phone.

Each NFC-enabled tag integrated into product packaging has a unique ID. This enables product tracking and authentication and allows interactions with a single consumer. Delivered content can be used to build brand loyalty and be linked to e-commerce capabilities, such as enabling re-purchase.

The use of packaging-directed augmented reality (AR) allows brands to position the pack directly within a consumer’s real world experience. AR has the potential to provide instructional guidance; for example, demonstrating functional packaging attributes can provide a way to compare products for the shopper and aid the purchase decision.

However, most examples of AR on CPG packaging have been used to provide fun, interactive experiences. With less leisure time available, consumers are devoting free time towards fun, playful and even juvenile pursuits.

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