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Smart Packaging and Sustainable Packaging Really Can Go Hand-in-Hand

As “smart packaging” technology evolves, it is important that brands focus not only on the functionality of the packaging but also on how consumers will view the packaging in terms of sustainability, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.

Packaging is critical for enhancing the functionality of products as well as winning over new consumers, according to GlobalData. Of late, both smart packaging and sustainable packaging trends have gathered pace owing in part to rising disposable income of consumers across the globe. Recent innovations are demonstrating that sustainable packaging can coexist and grow harmoniously alongside smart packaging – but only if brands recognize and acknowledge both trends, a new report from GlobalData suggests.


What Is Smart Packaging?

With technology advances, new options in packaging are becoming available to companies. Some smart packaging, for example, can provide consumers with extra information, communicate with retailers and manufacturers, protect against theft, or track a product’s journey during transit. “In the future, these technologies will provide brand-name companies with a completely new way to interact with consumers,” according to an article from strategy and marketing consultants Simon Kucher & Partners. “Furthermore, manufactures will have greater access to end customers. Through smart packaging, communication will become more individualized and more personal.”

Already, brands have been “incorporating new technologies into packaging designs that can improve the user experience by, for example, sharing additional brand information, product information or by connecting with an online social media platform,” says Lia Neophytou, consumer markets analyst for GlobalData.

One such interactive packaging innovation? Last year, Frito Lays-owned Tostitos launched a limited-edition “Party Safe” bag with a sensor which could detect how much alcohol a user had consumed. The sensor would turn red and administer an Uber code for consumers who were over the limit.

According to the company’s global consumer survey in Q1 2017, half of consumers globally find the concept of interactive packaging like the Tostitos bag “exciting” or “nice to have,” while 8% even consider it to be “essential.”

New capabilities can also lead to promising new business models and monetization strategies, Simon Kucher & Partners says.


Things to Consider

However, embedding electronics into everyday packaging has recently raised serious questions about disposal, given the world’s increased commitment toward sustainability, GlobalData points out.

“There are also more simple steps that brands can take to ensure that their smart packaging designs do align with the sustainable packaging trend,” says Neophytou. “For example, communicating closely with recycling bodies during the developing stages can ensure from the outset that smart packaging is fit to be recycled.”

Recycling return schemes and other programs, which reward the consumer for properly disposing of packaging waste, are also other options.

“In future, it is important that brands recognize both trends and ensure that their packaging designs do not isolate consumers, who consider recyclability an important consideration in their purchasing decisions,” Neophytou says. “Doing so will also set a new standard for smart packaging and it will encourage industry players operating in the same or adjacent fields to align their actions in the same way.”

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