You Can’t Put that on the Label: Why You Need a Smart Label

Smart labels empower brands to create powerful consumer experiences that traditional labels cannot.

September 25, 2023

Labels and packaging are the first point of contact a consumer has with your product and your brand. Product information is conveyed, brand perceptions are built and products are differentiated on store shelves.

But what if labels could do even more?

Smart labels and packaging not only give consumers all the relevant information about product and brand — far more than traditional labels — but also create interactive experiences, delivering a far better consumer experience and a consumer-to-brand connection that lasts far beyond the purchase.

Transforming physical labels and packaging into a digital platform using a smart label with a QR code or NFC tag is the simplest way to give consumers things you just can’t put on a traditional label.

9 Things You Can’t Put on a Label

Videos and Animated Gifs

With the MakerLab project, adidas created a new kind of collaboration. But this wasn’t something easily conveyed on shoe packaging. The video in the digital experience — launched by scanning an NFC tag in the tongue of the shoe — tells this story as it should be told.

Tap-to-Buy Functionality

Product commerce allows labels — and therefore products — themselves to become a point of sale. For example, the Sparkle CPG brand empowers consumers to tap the NFC tag on a laundry detergent container, prompting a simple, one click reorder process.

It’s never been easier for brands to grow direct sales, even if the product was originally purchased through a retailer.


Italian outerwear brand Mr & Mrs Italy uses an NFC-embedded label to launch a digital experience that authenticates individual products. Consumers no longer have to wonder if they are purchasing a counterfeit item, even if they are buying the item secondhand.

This is peace of mind that a traditional label just can’t offer.


The label designer’s classic fight is to convey all relevant product information while keeping the design clean enough that the information can be easily read.

Clothing further complicates this by requiring certain information like care instructions — which usually must fit in the very small amount of real estate on tags. While regulations still requires that information, digital experiences can give consumers even more information than could fit on care tags — like styling tips, related products for sale and much more.

See how DYNE gives consumers more with smart labels.

Up-to-Date Messaging

“The main point for us is that we can adapt the message in real time,” says Peter Wills, Sales & Marketing Manager at Kilchoman Distillery. This is no longer a worry — with a digital experience now affixed to the brand’s whiskey bottles via NFC, the most up-to-date information is always available for consumers.

Wills also spoke about how using NFC allowed his brand to keep the label design clean and distinguished, while adding a wealth of information in the digital experience.

Interactive Safety and Weather Information

Smart Outdoor & Liquid Outdoor put smart labels on greenway signage, transforming traditional mile markers into interactive safety information for trail visitors. When the label’s QR codes are scanned, consumers automatically access the current weather conditions for their exact location, notifying them of any imminent inclement weather. Additionally, in an emergency situation, the GPS location included in the mile marker QR information lets emergency responders know exactly where the visitor is located.

A Product-Specific Story

It can be difficult to tell a story specific to the product in hand on a traditional label, particularly for large CPG brands producing millions of individual packages. Now it’s easy.

Happy Acre’s digital experience shows consumers a video featuring the specific farmer that grew the potatoes used in the specific bag of potato chips they scan.

Customer-Specific Product Recommendations

BVLGARI continues its 130 years of innovation by embedding dynamic digital experiences in luxury product labels. These experiences provide a wealth of product and brand information as well as exclusive content consumers wouldn’t otherwise have access to. The brand can also use these experiences to provide recommendations for other products that complement the one in hand.

Purchase Incentives

Vita Coco innovated the money back guarantee by incorporating it into a digital experience attached to packaging and making it interactive. Consumers were incentivized to try new products in real time through the experience, and to continue interacting after the purchase — creating new long-term relationships with a traditional incentive updated for today’s digital world.


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