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FLEXO Magazine : April 2012
Technologies & Techniques Electronic-Enabled Packaging More Than Just A label By Colleen Twomey With little-to-no sacrifice of precious packaging real estate, consumer product companies (CPCs) are learning about consumer purchasing patterns, demographics, and lifestyles in ways that were never possible before. However, the CPC is not the only one who benefits from these trends. What does the converter need to know about electronic- enabled packaging? The implications to the FTA membership are clear: CPCs will always continue to push for more consis- tent color and ability to reproduce fine images. The quality of the flexo printing process is as important now as it has ever been. Flexo’s ability to deliver quality at high speeds and lower costs than other print processes puts it in prime position to take advantage of new trends such as electronic-enabled packaging. When one enters “electronic-enabled packaging” into an Internet search engine, a variety of descriptors appear: Smart Packaging, Active Packaging, Intelligent Packaging, etc. Different definitions are associated with these descriptors including food safety, shelf life (how can electronic-enabled packaging alert the consumer as to when the product in the package has expired), consumer safety, quality of product, convenience ... it quickly becomes apparent that there is no real or official definition for this interesting trend. But two exist- ing definitions will illustrate the point. According to Matti Leppaniemi of the University of Oulu, Finland, mobile marking involves “using interactive wireless media to provide customers with time and location sensitive, personalized information that promotes goods, services, and ideas, thereby generating value for all stake holders.” In his article titled, “The New Face of Packaging,” pub- lished in Packaging World, Scott A. Morris, Ph .D. , explains, “...packaging’s basic functions are protection, utilization, and communication.” These non-traditional definitions, expressed by today ’s growing population of mobile technology users, are required. According to The Freedonia Group, the U.S . demand for active packaging is going to climb 8 percent annually to 2015 (market size $ 2.3 billion), and intelligent packaging is esti- mated to grow over 20 percent annually to 2015. According to Ipsos OTX, 79 percent of smartphone con- sumers use their phones to help with shopping; from compar- ing prices, to finding more product information to locating a retailer. Seventy percent use their smartphones while in a store. And, most interestingly, according to PEW Internet and American Life Project, 35 percernt of American adults own a smartphone. This statistic does not include those under 18 who own them, and those Americans who already own “dumb phones”—phones that don’t have wireless capability. Growth rates in the use of mobile technology have changed the way CPCs can target consumers and engage them at the point of purchase. Mobile technology has broken age, race, and gender demographics to some extent—if a growing ma- jority of Americans own these devices, CPCs can target them all in one setting: the retail store. The face of packaging has changed. Packaging has moved beyond the purchase of a product, and moved into a consumer experience. Consumers now have a social media connection with packaging; CPCs can target consumers with Persistent Uniform Resource Locators, or PURLS. Consum- ers can use their mobile device to interact with the CPC’s website, watch movie trailers for promotional campaigns and consumers can even participate in gaming—all while holding a package and mobile device in a grocery store. The implica- tions of this level of engagement are endless for the CPC. So, how does that affect the flexo community? This article will discuss four trends within packaging that use mobile devices to engage consumers, but the print ca- pability must have high fidelity. Since the majority of packag- ing is printed with flexography, this affects most of the FTA membership. QR CODES The Quick Response code, or QR code, was developed in the early 1990s by a division of Toyota called Denso Wave to track vehicles in manufacturing. QR codes have become popular recently because they have the ability to store lots of data and can be scanned very quickly—with mobile devices Modern Marketing • U.S. demand for active packaging is going to climb 8 percent annually to 2015 (market size $2.3 billion), and intelligent packaging is estimated to grow over 20 percent annually to 2015 • QR codes can provide consumers with fast access to CPCs’ websites with a simple app • SnapTagsTM engage consumers at the point of sale by allowing them to “snap” a photo of a logo, send the photo via text or e-mail and receive a wealth of information • Near-field communications uses touch or close prox- imity to engage the consumer with mobile technology and allow large amounts of data to be exchanged instantly between the purchaser and the product • Augmented Reality is a type of virtual reality that combines real and imagined images in real-time providing an interactive experience 32 FLeXO April 2012 www.flexography.org