The future of smart packaging is now

There is a growing number of consumers that care a lot about what they buy. They view their purchases as representative of their environmental and social ethics, and a small but concrete way that they can contribute to positive change. 

To inform their purchasing decisions, these consumers want to know a lot about what they buy. That goes beyond what regularly appears on packaging to raw material sourcing, carbon footprint, production methods, and social impact.

While this is a growing trend, it’s not the only reason consumers look carefully at product packaging. Anyone with a food allergy or diet restriction in their family knows how time consuming it is to scour tiny ingredient lists. As recycling rates increase, so do the search for recycling instructions. And the coronavirus pandemic has led to an acceleration of the already growing movement to buy locally produced products, which will likely continue into the future.

These conscientious consumers are not just curious. They are willing to pay more for products that meet their standards and reward brands for transparency. That makes it important for the bottom line to start supplying consumers with better quality information. Having this information on a website and posting on social media is all important. But there’s a disconnect between creating good quality product information and engaging content for consumers, and getting it in front of their eyes when they need it. Smart packaging is the most efficient way for brands to serve consumers with enhanced information, at that critical moment when the product is in their hands.

Smart packaging for consumer engagement

Consumer engagement has been a focus for us at Magic Add for a long time. We’ve considered it one of the primary applications for our Internet of Packaging platform from the very beginning. The potential was clear for two reasons:

  1. The space on the label is limited, but the space in the cloud is not. Attaching additional information to packaging and delivering it to consumers at the moment they are most engaged with a product makes the packaging work harder for brands and serve consumers better. And
  2. brands could gain valuable consumer insights in real-time based on anonymized data analytics from scanning. It creates a new data stream based on real-world product usage that currently isn’t available anywhere else. 

 

We realized that in order for brands to adopt smart packaging for consumer engagement, three key barriers needed to be removed: ambiguous cost, technical difficulty, and pressure for creative development. 

 

Implementation barriers for brands

But when it came to implementation of smart packaging solutions, we kept hearing similar questions from customers. What content should I show to consumers? Should the focus be on sustainability, or product origin? Exactly how long will it take and cost to create a marketing campaign? How much IT integration is needed? The answers to these questions varied widely depending on scope, whether they would use a creative agency or leverage existing content, and how long the decision making process took within the company’s administration. 

We realized that in order for brands to adopt smart packaging for consumer engagement, three key barriers needed to be removed: ambiguous cost, technical difficulty, and pressure for creative development. 

Examples of smart packaging

Smart packaging, also called connected packaging, is not new. Some industries, such as pharmaceuticals, have been using smart packaging for serialization and product authentication for years. And in some markets, notably in Asia, consumers have been scanning QR codes to pay, give feedback, get information, and more for over a decade. In the US market, Smartlabel now appears on many packaged food and beverage products, though its main driver is to comply with GMO labeling legislation.

In Europe, there are many piecemeal examples of connected packaging from the last few years. They are typically highly tailored and campaign-based, such as Malibu, Yeo Valley, and AR wine labels. Some focus on loyalty programs, others on entertainment, but since they are all custom built solutions for the customer, development time and cost become bigger factors. 

 

In the future, smart packaging would not only become more common, it would be an essential vehicle for brands to communicate with consumers.

 

Actually engaging consumers

We realized that all these drivers for consumers to search for more useful and fun product information were leading toward an inevitability: in the future, smart packaging would not only become more common, it would be an essential vehicle for brands to communicate with consumers. But in order for consumers to become aware that they could get high-quality, helpful info by scanning product packaging, a standard solution is needed. For consumers to build the habit of scanning products regularly, two challenges had to be solved:

  1. The content must be relevant, interesting, save time, and add value. A QR code cannot just link to a corporate website or show the consumer an advertisement, or they are unlikely to scan again.
  2. It must be a regular part of product packaging, not a temporary campaign. 

 

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A standard smart packaging solution

We realized there was a gap in the market. Brands needed a ready off-the-shelf solution that they could easily purchase, and wouldn’t become a massive, time-consuming project for their marketing staff. And consumers deserved something that actually provided value, without gimmicks and marketing fluff.  

 

All brands have to do is enter their product content into an easy to use dashboard. They can start with existing content and add more or refresh it later, reducing the pressure to create a new campaign’s worth of content and speeding up the implementation timeline.  

 

This led us to create EXAKT, a ready-off-the-shelf B2B SaaS solution that presents enhanced product information in a standardized format via smart tags. We’ve created the information fields. All brands have to do is enter their product content into an easy to use dashboard. They can start with existing content and add more or refresh it later, reducing the pressure to create a new campaign’s worth of content and speeding up the implementation timeline. In our development roadmap, we plan to integrate with GS1's Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN) to make this step even faster. 

Then brands attach EXAKT smart tags to their product packaging, either with labels or by integrating them into the packaging design. Consumers scan the tag with their mobile device and view information instantly—no downloads or registration needed. No more Googling or squinting at the fine print. This means less time spent in the store trying to find out where a product was made, or if it’s suitable for a particular diet. 

In addition to presenting consumers with essential product information about contents, origin, usage, recycling, and social and environmental impact, brands can enrich the experience with recipes and tutorials, and continue the customer journey by linking to social media and e-commerce for at-home reordering. Magic Add’s IoP platform powers everything, from issuing the unique codes to managing the product information dynamically, and processing analytics.

Right info. Right now. 

With EXAKT, we’ve removed those barriers that made smart packaging seem too difficult to implement. Providing consumers with relevant information in an easy-to-navigate format saves them time, increasing brand loyalty. Clear plans and pricing, standardized product information fields, and an easy to use dashboard to manage products and view analytics make EXAKT an easy SaaS tool that brands can add to their marketing stack. 

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View our demo

Want to check out EXAKT for yourself? Head on over to https://exaktapp.com/brands/ to view our demo. Have some questions or want to know more about plans and pricing? Reach out to us at hello@magicadd.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. 

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