We all know we need to reduce excess packaging. Most of us are also aware that some level of packaging is a necessary thing for protecting our purchases, whether in-store or when delivered to home. The challenge of balancing these two needs hasn’t escaped the notice of some brands though. They’re pioneering creative ways for packaging to have a second life in fun.
IKEA’s new Toybox app is the perfect example of this. Currently in a demo phase, the app uses augmented reality to suggest ways in which leftover cardboard packaging can be rebuilt into children’s toys. Like the company’s famous do-it-yourself furniture, customers can follow the in-app instructions to build the design of their choice.
It’s a great example of AR at work as it makes it easy to understand and visualise how the finished toy will look. It’s also a fun way of breathing new life into packaging. IKEA says the app is backed by masses of R&D by its partners to understand that parents are often at a loss of ways to encourage creative and imaginative play in children.
Nintendo’s Labo concept isn’t about packaging per se, but it is a glimpse into what it could be. Labo sets contain sheets of cardboard with pre-printed and perforated shapes that can be built into different models that interact with Nintendo’s Switch games console. The instructions for building each model are shown step-by-step on the console’s screen. Once built the screen and game controllers can be fitted into the models to trigger games and effects from a working mini piano to vehicles to fighting robots.
We love this marriage of cardboard and tech. It feels perfectly pitched for its target young audience, encouraging them to get creative and use their imaginations. And the effects work brilliantly. Currently the Labo sets are sold separately with the accompanying software, but what if in the future Nintendo included a Labo model in the Switch’s box packaging so it could be rebuilt into something that works with the new console?
Or what if Nintendo released special edition gift packaging for the holidays that included a limited themed Labo model? Steps have already been made in this direction via Nintendo’s partnership with Amazon in Japan. Customers buying Labo through Amazon were treated to bonus models and packaging designs. This could easily be implemented more widely.
Amazon has also been experimenting with the idea of doing more with its own packaging. Numerous Prime users have reported receiving the classic Amazon cardboard box branded with the hashtags #morethanabox and #boxcraft. #morethananbox packaging is printed with imaginative ‘assembly instructions’ for reusing the box as anything from a pirate hat to a rollercoaster. Meanwhile #boxcraft packaging has pre-printed artwork that customers can cut out and assemble into models, paper aeroplanes, masks and more.
All sorts of retailers could utilise this idea. Fun, interactive packaging concepts like this, which use what was previously waste cardboard to create something new, inject moments of joy in the buying process. They help to create memories and strong emotional links with a company. If you’re a regular shopper with a brand you may look forward to receiving your order to see what design or bonus you’re getting this time.
Equally as important though is that ideas that help customers reimagine and reuse waste packaging create feelings of goodwill. Customers appreciate retailers and brands who take their concerns around sustainability seriously. If they can have a little fun with it along the way so much the better.
By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends.