Top Connected Packaging Experiences of 2021

Top Connected Packaging Experiences of 2021

A roundup of some of the most innovative connected packaging experiences of 2021.

September 25, 2023

Packaging protects items during transportation, can provide additional marketing and information and gives retail stores a way to scan items at checkouts.

Connected packaging, however, goes above and beyond traditional boxes or tags — it connects consumers to brands by immersing them in a personalized digital experience. Quick response (QR) codes and near field communication (NFC) tags are just a few of the tools innovative brands are using in connected packaging experiences to better connect with consumers.

With the connected product market slated to be worth $21.52 billion by 2027, it’s a worthy investment for brands — both for the valuable insights it gives companies and how it boosts customer engagement.

Here are some of our favorite connected packaging experiences of 2021.

1. Tetra Pak Rolls Out Connected Packaging to Inform Brands and Engage Customers

QR codes on brand products with Tetra Pak packaging enable consumers to scan a code and be immersed in a connective experience, with things like AR experiences, games, quizzes and more.

“It tracks real-time interaction, such as the product flavor scanned, average engagement time, location, scan rate, number of visitors, return visitors and social media shares, including GDPR compliant personal data, to enable the brand to optimize its marketing and better understand customers.” 


2. CO2-Activated Smart Labels Change Color to Indicate Food Freshness and Eliminate Waste

“The TTI [Time Temperature Indicator] is applied to the inside layer of the lidding film of a modified atmosphere package or bag. When the package is flushed with CO2 the label turns yellow and remains the same color until the package is opened, releasing the CO2.”

“Once the package is opened the label begins timing, responding with a color change that can be pre-set in line with consumer-within guidance. The technology is temperature sensitive so will change color faster if the product is stored after opening at temperatures above the recommended guidelines.”


3. Smart Labels Help Improve Shopping and Accessibility for the Visually Impaired

Kellogg’s partnered with the app NaviLens to add special codes on packaging in Europe to help people who are blind and have low-vision shop.

NaviLens’ special printed codes can be scanned from up to 12x farther than traditional QR and bar codes to empower the visually impaired — without a camera focusing directly on them.

“Important information on food packaging, such as allergen details can often be in print that’s difficult for blind or partially sighted people to read. The new boxes will allow a smartphone to easily detect a unique on-pack code and playback labelling information to the shopper with sight loss.”

- Food Business News

4. QR Codes Teach Consumers How to Compost, Recycle and Reuse Cardboard Packaging

Lipman Family Farms packages are 100% recyclable — and come with instructions to teach consumers how to dispose of them and help the environment at the same time.

“Each pack features a QR code which outlines the step-by-step process on how to compost, making it easier than ever for consumers to reduce their environmental footprint in their own backyards.”

Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics introduced a QR code in its eco-friendly Lifestyle TV product line that shows consumers how to reuse the boxes or recycle them.


5. Reusable Packaging Can Be Tracked By Consumers and Brands Alike in a Circular, Sustainable Move

Brand Beauty Kitchen founded the “Re” program, where products including everything from moisturizers to food items are put reusable containers. Brands, consumers, and retailers work together to rebottle, refill, and return the packaging to keep it in use. And consumers can get rewarded for keeping the containers in continuous use.

“After downloading an app on your phone and scanning the bottle’s unique QR code, you can view its infinite journey, plant trees, earn rewards and rest easy knowing it’ll never go to landfill.”


6. QR Clothing Tags Take Consumers Through a Sustainability Story

ecofashionCORP incorporated tags with QR codes into clothing for its brands Seed to Style and YesAnd. Consumers scan the tag and a blockchain and AI-based traceability platform is launched, showing consumers transparent information on the products’ sustainability and supply chain story.

“The platform provides suppliers and consumers with fully traceable, batch-level data and accompanying 3rd party certification verification, with all information available on a trusted platform, consumers can validate that streamlines environmental and social compliance are met.”


7. Ocean Bottle Teams with Red Bull to Reduce Plastic Waste

Ocean Bottle partnered with Red Bull Racing to “supply the [Red Bull Racing Honda] team and its guests with fully recyclable reusable water bottles made from recycled materials.” Additionally, Red Bull committed to collecting 1,000 bottles worth of plastic.

Every Ocean Bottle includes an embedded NFC chip that launches a Blue Bite-powered personalized mobile experience. When consumers scan this NFC touchpoint, they are presented with partner “Refill” locations in their current area, and earn rewards each time they refill their Ocean Bottle.

8. Smart Labels Provide Guidance for Diabetes Patients

Schreiner MediPharm created an NFC label for Ypsomed’s UnoPen, which patients with diabetes use to inject insulin.

The NFC label is a “communication interface” with the pen. It can help identify, authenticate, and check the pen’s expiration date, guide them through the injection process, and warn them if the pen was “exposed to critical temperatures while being used or stored.”

Bluetooth technology communicates information to patients’ phones, and will provide other helpful information — like if they deviate from their therapy plan or accidentally attempt to administer insulin twice.

9. Tags Give Consumers a Way to Return Adidas Products into the Circular Economy

Products in Adidas’ “Made to Be Remade” line have tags with QR codes. When scanned, the QR codes immerse consumers in a digital experience in the Adidas app.

In the digital experience, consumers can return the product for free and have it turned into other items, learn about how the items are remade, and other sustainability information.

10. Connected Packaging Keeps Consumers Safe with PPE Traceability and Verification

NFC tags in product boxes from Aegle show that the PPE is approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Consumers simply have to tap the NFC chip and are shown open data on the item’s tracking and authenticity.

“Then, using any NFC-enabled smartphone, the buyer can confirm the authenticity of the purchase and see all raw materials, internal and third-party testing results for its production batch.”

Connected packaging provides a way for brands to go beyond traditional boxes and tags and connect with consumers in personalized, immersive digital experiences. With packaging enabled with QR codes and NFC tags connected to connected products platforms, brands can inform consumers and add more value to their products and services.

We can’t wait to see the innovative ways brands will connect with consumers through connected packaging in 2022.


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