Smart Packaging: A New Link Between Manufacturers and Consumers

Inventory control, authenticity, security and the customer experience, with or without RFID, are just part of what the Internet of Packaging has already begun to provide.
Published: August 7, 2019

During a recent trip to China, I had the opportunity to talk to many people, and I was able to reflect on the path that the Internet of Packaging (IoP) is taking, with or without radio frequency identification technologies (see Smart Packaging Plays a Key Role for Brands and as a Marketing Tool). The most impressive thing about smart packaging is that you can do just about anything imaginable with it. The IoP is not just a breakthrough in technologies and the use of various solutions, but it embarks on this evolution to do much more than anyone could ever have expected—and, thus, it will be an indispensable business tool.

At China Summit 2019, presented in Shanghai by the Active & Intelligent Packaging Association (AIPIA), several solution providers, as well as some end users, presented their views about the industry and its evolution. Those who came up with the most mature ideas, as far as I could tell, were the ones who view packaging as powerful media.

So what does this mean? It’s simple: rather than merely providing information about a particular product that a consumer needs to know before purchasing it, packaging can enhance the customer relationship, revealing data about environmental concerns, for example, by supplying instructions on how to use that product, as well as the correct disposal method and other aspects. What does this change? Everything, because packaging is no longer limited to the physical space available for printing, and thus can lead a buyer to browse videos or other high-tech resources.

This power of content enhancement and interactive feedback, along with any other ideas that marketers are sure to create, will make packaging more efficient than a television or media advertising campaign, whether online or elsewhere. After all, packaging could carry all of these marketing messages and more.

Note that products stay in close contact with consumers for a long time. This precious span of time could open a unique, unprecedented and innovative channel of dialogue to allow a much closer relationship between a brand, its manufacturer and the end customer.

One criticism of the current business landscape has been in regard to the difficulty that manufacturers have in gaining or securing a direct channel of communication with their buyers. This is a real and everyday problem, but it’s one for which I predict that its days are numbered—in time, thanks the IoP, it should disappear.

Edson Perin is the editor of RFID Journal Brazil and the founder of Netpress Publisher.