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"WeListen" Blog

What Is Smart Packaging and Why Does It Matter?

Packaging design originated at as purely functional, a way to protect the contents of consumer package goods during shipment and storage. Over the decades, though, CPG brands have learned how powerful an effect packaging design can have on brand perception and popularity. 

Packaging design accomplishes much more than product protection.

People do not only care about how the packaging enclosing the products they purchase contain and protect what is inside. They also care that it be easy to use, convenient, and that it harmonizes well with how they plan to store and use the product. 

Some packaging design advances are functional rather than technical, like re-closable packages. Other new smart packaging designs can do far more, and have the potential for astonishing progress as technology develops.

Packaging Design Is Rapidly Evolving 

Parents of young children and people who are constantly on the go especially appreciate packaging designs that take their needs and lifestyles into account. A baking product that comes in a re-sealable, stand-up pouch or snack foods that are individually packaged and designed to keep things fresh at room temperature make life easier and more pleasant for the average consumer. With more consumers expressing concerns about sustainability efforts made by their favorite brands, packaging technology has allowed brands to reassure consumers that there is less to recycle or throw away, or newer, better ways of reclaiming it. 

High-Tech Packaging: More Than Just New Payment Technologies

In the past couple of years, smart payment technology, like Apple Pay and mobile wallets have been in the news because of their potential to make the shopping process significantly faster and more secure. However, payment technologies are not the only direction smart packaging designs are going. 

With expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), a vast, interconnected data network made up of ordinary objects and machines, packaging design is branching out into data sharing with tomorrow’s “connected” household. Perhaps tomorrow’s milk container will send you an alert when it is almost empty rather than letting you find out for yourself when you unexpectedly have to take your coffee black one morning. 

Smart packaging design could help you find out you are almost out of milk before you pour the morning cereal.

Enhancements to Food Safety

The IoT and packaging technology are expected to combine to greatly enhance food safety. Tiny sensors for temperature and the passage of time can be attached to food and beverage packaging, ensuring consumers that the perishable products they buy are fresh and safe to eat. Having products themselves notify consumers that a consumer package product is about to reach its expiration date can help reduce food waste. It may even help consumers by suggesting recipes that use other ingredients that are part of the “smart” kitchen.

Access to More Detailed Product Information and Extras

Quick Response, or QR codes, have been used by brands long enough that they are practically considered quaint. These are the matrix barcodes you see on packages and signs that can be scanned with a smartphone to gain access to more information. People have used them for years to quickly learn more about products before buying them. 

Near field communication (NFC) chips embedded in product packaging designs promise far more, making it even easier for consumers to have a better brand experience and take in a greater amount of information than could ever be included on package labeling. It could become an outstanding pathway for brands to engage with consumers. 

Smart packaging is an excellent way for CPG brands to communicate to consumers that they understand their needs and want to meet them. From innovative designs that allow products to be used or stored more conveniently, to sensors and connections that will be able to inform consumers of product status, smart packaging is poised to become increasingly “smarter” as technology matures. 

While brands do not have to jump at every new smart technology that comes out of the pipeline, they are wise to keep up with the direction of technology so they can incorporate the smart packaging design elements that make the most sense for their brand image and product lines.

PKG Branding Design brings together the expertise of CPG branding and design, identifying the needs of our customers and helping to educate them on the most recent trends. 

Click to download our free PKG Book Chapter: "Package Design and the Role of  the Consumer" Click to subscribe to all the PKG Blog Posts: Subscribe Now to: The Conversation


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