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The Future of Packaging is Interactive

Monday, 23 December 2013 | By Gerry Mulvaney

 

By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

01At a recent Smithers Pira conference I was jolted from my post lunch somnolence by someone describing smartphones as “supplementary packaging”. Had I misheard? I mean how can you wrap cornflakes with an iPhone or bottle coke in a Nexus?!

I had not misheard because the phrase was repeated several times in the course of a presentation that sought to demonstrate the future of interactive packaging.

The hand of digital printing has yet to properly touch the general packaging market, although a number of highly publicised personalisation projects like the names on Coca Cola bottles and Kleenex tissues have certainly demonstrated the possibilities.

The Possibilities of Interactive Packaging

What was being described as “supplementary packaging” was the way that the ubiquitous smartphone could be used to extend the content on packaging and labels and offer marketing opportunities to brand owners. QR codes have been around for a while, but now with the growth of augmented reality, it is possible to bring the flat artwork on a packet or bottle to life in ways we are only now coming to realise.

The example was given of a scanned code on a packet providing a video of how to use the contents of the package in a recipe or as part of a meal. With augmented reality the actual packet that you have purchased could be the star of the video and this opens enormous possibilities for versioning, interaction and personalisation.

For example, brand owners increasingly want to target specific family units, such as singletons, co-habiting couples or parents with children. And as technology such as Landa Nanographic Printing® Presses enables large format short runs to be produced very economically, the same product can be produced in pack sizes to suit the different units. It can be versioned in such a way so as to show the contents being used in a romantic dinner for two or as part of a larger family meal, depending on the AR code on the packet.

Using a smartphone as supplementary packaging would also solve the problem of extra language options on the label. The phone obviously knows the owners mother tongue and from information displayed on the pack, can provide the necessary language options by simply scanning the pack. It would be possible to augment brand promotions by using the pack to provide additional information in graphic and video form – in a way unheard of in the normal supermarket. The location services on mobile phones could also be used to highlight regional promotions and offers.

Once you think about a smartphone as “supplementary packaging”, the ways in which Nanography® will be able to add value to the converters’ proposition become boundless. I know from my conversations with Landa’s customers, that they are very excited at the new possibilities that combining digital technologies will offer their customer base. In the near future brand owners will be doing things with their packaging that today we can only dream about.

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