What is Digital Packaging?

Published by Henrique Carrilho

Nearly all of us walk around with tiny, high-powered, computers in our pockets. We can use them to do almost anything, from ordering food or a ride, listening to music, communicating with our friends and family, sharing opinions, and taking photographs. 

What even 30 years ago we would have considered futuristic and unlikely, is now so commonplace we can easily forget how revolutionary the state of technology is. Smartphones are changing how we interact with the world, and digital packaging is a development that reflects those changes. This is a relatively new phenomenon, but it’s one that’s filled with a great deal of potential for creative companies. 

So, what exactly is digital packaging and how can it help brands encourage engagement?


What is digital packaging?

As the name suggests, digital packaging is packaging that’s created using digital technologies. Sometimes known as ‘connected packaging’, it may include three-dimensional software, printed electronics, and digitally controlled manufacturing protocols. 

It can include connected technology such as augmented reality, smartphone scanning, and QR codes to create a more immersive and engaging experience for the consumer. It incorporates gamification elements whereby aspects of the gaming experience are used to facilitate marketing goals. It’s still in its relative infancy, but it’s already playing an important role in the world of digital marketing.  It not only promotes interaction with consumers, but it can also collect data about the journey the packaging takes, from production through to disposal.


Why might you use digital packaging?

All this may sound interesting, but isn’t it a little left-field and marginal? In fact, digital packaging is becoming increasingly common. It promotes a more rounded and immersive creative experience between consumers and products, companies, and brands. 

Digital packaging gives your products ‘the wow factor’, conveying a sense of discovery and excitement. It is novel and intriguing, and it can increase the chances of a buyer purchasing your product. Digital packaging can offer a vast range of opportunities to businesses of all kinds. 

It can provide better tracking through the supply chain, providing a greater depth of information beyond what can be written on a label. It also improves the quantity and quality of data collection. This ability to connect directly with your customers gives marketers another means by which to foster engagement and brand loyalty. 


What can you achieve with digital packaging?

Digital packaging can help your products stand out from the competition. There is a range of different techniques and components that can be included. Some of the most talked-about are:

Image recognition

Image recognition is increasingly being used as part of digital packaging. This is where a digital device can recognise a certain shape and then respond to it. One means by which this is being used is via augmented reality (AR). This is where real-world objects or places are enhanced using computer-generated images. You could, for instance, use it to scan products to gain information about how and where they were made. 

QR Codes

QR codes are frequently used in digital packaging and are becoming a common part of everyday life.  This is a system of machine-readable code that’s made up of a collection of black and white squares. Typically, this can be used to store links to websites. Some marketing professionals have raised doubts about the usefulness of QR codes. 

This criticism has its roots in the early days of QR technology when it was used widely, often with the attached content being of poor or superfluous quality. Increasingly, brands are paying greater attention to what’s delivered by a QR code with many of the early teething problems now eradicated.


Near-Field Communication Technology

Near-field communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless technology that’s commonly found in all kinds of devices including phones and smartwatches. It’s most commonly encountered in payment cards; the technology that allows for contactless payment for example. It’s the technology that allows devices to create wireless connections by which to communicate with one another. This means it can be used for wireless payment or in key cards.

All of these technologies offer creative marketers the chance to develop exciting ways to create engagement and foster brand loyalty. 


An immersive consumer experience.

The potential of digital packaging is still being explored and developed. It’s clear, at this relatively early stage, that it offers real potential for creating a much more immersive consumer experience. The key to its future development and relevance will lie in developing content that adds value to the consumer experience. 

Some points to consider when using connected or digital packaging include:

  • Making sure you target the right audience, with the right strategy and using the right technology. What are your objectives in integrating digital components into your packaging, and what gamification strategy will you use to align with these needs?
  • Connected packaging doesn’t have to be expensive and doesn’t necessarily need to be attached to an app or other bespoke software. It could be something as simple as providing an accessible link to browser-hosted content.
  • Integrating your digital packaging with social media can be highly effective. Think about how you can create positive feedback loops between the packaging and your social media feeds.

If you want to learn more about smart packaging, why not check out our other article on Understanding Smart Packaging?

At Appetite Creative, our connected packaging services can help you achieve your brand objectives, drive in-store footfall, increase awareness and maximise sales. Contact us today to find out more about how your marketing can be revolutionised by digital packaging. 


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