Technology has permeated almost every part of our lives. It’s not just in our homes, cars or places of work. Our smartphones mean we always have tech on tap wherever we are.
It’s no surprise then that technology is also impacting packaging. By harnessing its ubiquitous nature, packaging designers and brands are able to add an extra dimension to their packaging to inform, inspire or entertain customers.
One of the technologies having the biggest impact in packaging is augmented reality (AR). Sipp is one company that is using this tech to change business models. As the first-ever AR wine club, Sipp’s point of difference is its AR-enabled app.
When a customer receives their subscription in the post, they can use the app to scan the wine’s label and access information about how to serve it, what it pairs well with and where it was made. It’s a really neat way of communicating information that you may not have space to put on the label itself. Using tech in this way could also enable designers to rethink the label entirely – if you don’t have to include certain information then could it look different?
Earlier this year Jack Daniel’s launched an AR app that enabled customers to take a virtual tour of the brand’s distillery. Once they have downloaded the app, customers can point it at any bottle of Jack Daniel’s to unlock a series of AR animations that look like pop-up book dioramas. They come complete with different textures, lighting and voiceover.
The tech turns the bottle’s label into a way to educate customers about Jack Daniel’s’ history and process, which helps emphasise its point of difference and authenticity. Through developments like this, packaging can become a channel for broadcasting media and advertising. This could drive a new way of thinking about packaging within the wider brand strategy.
Other technologies are also being incorporated into packaging as experimental new blockchain chocolate bar The Other Bar shows. This collaboration between FairChain Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme is currently being piloted in a limited run.
Each chocolate bar is packaged in an attractive looking cardboard wrapper. The difference is that inside each package there is a code that can be scanned with your smartphone to either donate a blockchain code to the cocoa farmers or to get a discount on your next bar.
It empowers customers to improve life for the farmers by either buying more (using their discount) or plant more trees (by donating a token). It doesn’t cost the customer anything more and because it is blockchain based they can see what happens with the token.
As you can see, these technologies are adding new elements to packaging. They also show that packaging remains an incredibly important point of connection with customers. There’s only so much that a single label or box can do though.
By utilising technology, brands can share more with their customers – whether that’s their brand story, additional content or new ways of doing things. And with tech only getting better, it’s becoming an important consideration for all packaging designers.
By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends, London