The Future of Smart Packaging: Industry Insights from LabelExpo Americas

Smart MartSmall, LabelExpo

Earlier this month we attended LabelExpo Americas in Chicago, showcasing the opportunity that the EVRYTHNG platform offers from a packaging perspective.

We believe that making products smart via packaging is an unmissable opportunity. For starters, it offers brands an exciting new way to develop direct relationships with consumers via an owned digital media channel. And the same smart packaging can be used throughout the supply chain, enhancing existing programs like anti-counterfeit and anti-diversion.

Flanked by our packaging partners Avery Dennison and Thinfilm in the event’s Smart Mart, we were well-placed to gauge what is a growing appetite for smart packaging solutions.

Near Field Communications (NFC) was the hot topic. The announcement that the iPhone 6 would include NFC capabilities only underscored the general excitement about NFC technology. Packaging providers already view NFC as a slick way to engage consumers – for example, our partner Avery Dennison offers DirectLink™, which uses NFC technology to to deliver digital experiences directly from the label to consumers’ smartphones. However, there have been concerns around both cost and engagement.

Fortunately, costs have started to come down, thanks in part to innovative companies like our partner Thinfilm, who have created a lower-cost printed NFC tag. From an engagement perspective, Apple’s inclusion of NFC – albeit in a very restricted way – was a shot in the arm for the technology, acknowledging the increasing consumer acceptance of (and perhaps demand for?) tapping smart phones to interact with products, make payments or share information.

With costs lowering and acceptance growing, packaging companies are excited about exploring the ways that NFC can help brands to digitally expand on the limited real estate offered by labels. For example, providing information on recommended use, or special offers – directly from the product itself.

At the same time, there was general consensus that existing technologies like RFiD, QR, 1D barcodes and Image Recognition (IR) still have value to add. Packaging companies were quick to note that with many brands dipping their toes in multiple technology pools, they have to take a diverse approach themselves; and there’s enormous value in software like the EVRYTHNG platform enabling flexible delivery across these technologies.

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