Packaging Innovation
interactive packaging
July 7, 2014

The future of interactive packaging: "Will electronics change the industry?"

New technological innovations mean the packaging world can go further and further in increasing the interaction between the consumer and the product. Recently, we have seen built-in electronics in packaging to enhance the experience of the end-user. Will these developments one day be the standard for all packaging, or is interactive packaging a passing trend?

Packaging, by definition, is interactive. Whether it’s a carton of breakfast cereal or a bottle of shampoo, the packaging is designed to yield interaction between the consumer and the product itself. Ideally, the interaction results in a conversion, i.e. the consumer buys the product.

A case in point: intelligent wine cases

Here we are talking about technical innovations that allow the user of a particular product to engage with the product in a new way. A case in point is the emergence of “intelligent wine cases” in the world of wine transportation and storage. Each case of wine contains a sensor which records the temperature and humidity during transportation. Using a smartphone the retailer can track the history of any bottle, at any moment, taking into account any potential degradation.

Slowly but surely an increasing number of manufacturers and brands are experimenting with built-in electronics and sensors in packaging. Some offer a truly new user experience, such as the intelligent wine cases above; others are little more than gadgets, such as the Heineken beer bottles that light up when picked up.

Too expensive for the moment

These innovations may hardly be game changers now, yet there does seem to be a future for these types of interactive packages. For the moment, electronics in packaging is still a costly affair – consequently restricted to the high-end luxury market – yet that’s not to say they can’t add something to the world of packaging in the long run.

The possibilities seem endless, such as monitoring the supply chain, stopping counterfeiting, anti-theft actions, even enhancement of shelf-life and actively interacting with the consumer.

Only time will tell if the industry is willing to adopt these technical innovations.