Learn what smart packaging is and see examples of how brands use it to better connect to consumers.
July 1, 2019
“Think of Tiffany & Co. For most people, the iconic robin's-egg blue box is more recognizable than the jewelry itself.” Inc. magazine gets it right when illustrating that product packaging is as important as the product itself.
Originally purely functional, packaging has evolved to serve a variety of additional functions, including branding like the iconic Tiffany box color. Smart packaging continues that evolution.
Smart packaging is packaging with functionality beyond the original and primary uses: to contain, protect and preserve products. Smart packaging is typically divided into two categories:
“Smart packaging allows [us] to track and trace a product throughout its lifecycle and to analyze and control the environment inside or outside the package to inform its manufacturer, retailer or consumer on the product’s condition at any given time,” according to a recent report on Smart Packaging.
A subset of intelligent packaging, connected packaging integrates NFC tags or QR codes to perform a certain function. Blue Bite provides the platform for brands to leverage this connectivity and present digital experiences directly to consumers.
Because these experiences are contextual, an NFC tag embedded in custom packaging can serve different experiences depending on where a product is in its lifecycle:
Before purchase, these experiences can:
After purchase, they can:
Malibu Rum partnered with Tesco stores in Britain, using the contextual capabilities of NFC to better engage consumers. When a consumer tapped an NFC-enabled bottle in a store, their phone displayed an experience recommending either a rooftop bar or an indoor venue nearby, depending on the weather.
Diageo installed tamper detection NFC chips that tear when a bottle is opened. The prototype allows anyone throughout the supply chain to check the authenticity of the product, bringing transparency by indicating if counterfeiters disrupt that chain.
End consumers are assured they are purchasing an authentic product and, once they open the bottle, receive exclusive content different than what they saw when tapping the bottle in the store.
Incorporating NFC tags into beauty products empowers brands to deliver advice, tips and more directly to consumers.
NFC tags can add value to other consumer packaged goods (CPGs) using the same concept.
Upon the first consumer tap, the NFC tag installed in Astral Tequila activated a video from the man formerly known as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” praising tequila. When the same user tapped again within 48 hours — likely indicating a purchase — a new experience thanked them for purchasing.
Joen Choe, Vice President Marketing for Davos Brands — which owns Astral Tequila — explains why smart packaging is integral to the spirits industry.
“It’s even more important to the spirits industry since we’re so regulated in what we can do to reach the customer,” Choe said.
Other regulated brands can use NFC to directly reach consumers in similar ways.
The U.S. Postal Service encourages use of NFC and QR codes in mailings in a number of ways, including its “Irresistible Mail” campaign. In a featured use case, tapping a direct mailer from a musician activates a live concert video on the users phone, later providing them with an album download code.
Direct mail achieves a 4.4% response rate, as opposed to a 0.12% response rate of email, according to a Cornell University article. The same article reports that the average ROI for direct mail campaigns between and 18-20%.
Adding NFC or QR to direct mail can encourage consumers to take your desired action, driving those numbers even higher.
See also, the Postal Service’s suggested use of NFC on shipping boxes:
Adding NFC tags to limited edition Super Mario cereal boxes encouraged users to tap their Nintendo Switch controller to the NFC chip “like you would an Amiibo.” A Nintendo NFC tap unlocked special content in the Super Mario Odyssey game.
Not all packaging is well suited to adding NFC tags directly. Some brands instead include NFC on a hangtag of an item. Some perks to this method include:
For more information on encouraging taps, see our article on creating effective call to actions for smart products.