ICG member Carol Raithatha takes a look at how the world of packaging is evolving – and its implications for packaging, brand and user experience research.
Businesses are now fully aware of the effects of plastic packaging on the environment. They recognise the need to reduce or use more environmentally friendly forms of plastic in their packaging. But how many of these businesses have considered the power of connective technologies in their packaging design?
According to market intelligence agency, Mintel, in addition to ‘plastic-free’, three further trends will impact on the global packaging industry in 2019, and beyond. These are described as:
- Reinventing the Box: With online shopping set to gain further popularity, brands must fully establish an e-commerce packaging strategy
- Closing the Loop: Brands have an opportunity to differentiate and ride consumer awareness of recycling issues
- Connected Packaging: Multiple technologies are enabling brands to connect physical packaging to the virtual world
Technology such as QR codes, near field communication, radio frequency communication, Bluetooth, and augmented reality can create packs which are sources of information and entertainment for consumers, while functioning as marketing and traceability platforms for manufacturers and retailers. According to David Luttenberger, Global Packaging Director at Mintel, connected packaging is “a vital link between physical and digital shopping worlds” which brands can capitalise on to “influence how they are viewed online, together with delivering engaging content and product-specific information to directly influence purchasing decisions”.
For example, the global packaging manufacturer, Tetra Pak, recently announced the launch of its connected packaging platform, claiming it will bring new benefits to food producers, retailers and shoppers and “… transform milk and juice cartons into interactive information channels, full-scale data carriers and digital tools”. For shoppers using these packs “it will mean the ability to access vast amounts of information such as where the product was made, the farm that the ingredients came from and where the package can be recycled” according to Tetra Pak.
Connected packaging is likely to feature in many consumer goods manufacturers’ operations and marketing strategies. A 2017/2018 Deloitte Insights survey on over 400 North American business executives from 12 industries revealed that connected packaging is “on the radar” and “attracting significant investment across the value chain”. The research highlighted that connected solutions tend to fall into three broad categories; inventory and life cycle management, product integrity, and user experience. So be prepared, plastic or not, the future for packaging is … virtual.