If packaging could talk – how today’s packaging solutions communicate with the consumer – Creation

10 Sep 2018

In our last blog, we explored how bricks vs clicks, or rather the coming together of the two, is changing the face of retail. But what does this mean for packaging solutions when they must communicate the brand message in multiple purchasing scenarios?

For packaging manufacturers looking to create packs that engage the consumer across various instore scenarios and e-commerce platforms, does the same solution apply? Or are unique features required to cater for each purchasing situation?

This is the dilemma that brands now face as they consider how best to communicate their message to the consumer through product packaging.

Traditionally, packaging has played on stimulating the senses (particularly in terms of sight and touch) but as the increasing use of new techniques and technologies emerges so too does the packaging manufacturer’s ability to provide a richer sensory experience.

In this blog, we look at some new and innovative ways that packaging is reaching out and grabbing the attention of the consumer by appealing to the five senses.

Tech-ing it to the next level

The visual appearance of a pack, appealing to the consumer sense of sight, is perhaps the most obvious way that packaging ‘talks’ to its purchaser. Up until the last 10 years, this has been limited to the in-store, physical encounter. And, more recently to e-commerce goods purchased online. In both cases, the consumer can look at the product ‘in real life’.

Although highly effective, this age-old approach can be somewhat one-dimensional on an engagement level. Yes, there will always be a place for innovative graphics, think the recent trend for colourful craft beer cans or the lean toward kraft and minimal graphics to represent ‘natural’ products, but to really engage the consumer with the brand experience packaging manufacturers must use the new tools at their disposal.

One such tool is to create augmented reality (AR) enabled packaging. Increasingly, AR has a part to play in retail, extending the experience of the consumer beyond the physical pack. AR-enabled packaging can improve sales, enhance product visualisation and deliver interactive content (as highlighted in this Zappar blog on actionable ways brands can improve packaging with AR). This even allows brands to give aural qualities to packaging, which would not have been available previously.

The beauty of enabling packaging for AR purposes is that the process is not necessarily high-tech in terms of the print. Codes and AR-enabled graphics can be printed to the pack as standard. However, a high-quality, robust print is essential to ensure the brand message is delivered to optimum effect. For great examples of AR-enabled packaging, for brands such as 19 Crimes wine and Nespresso, check out this Industrial Packaging blog.

Igniting the senses

The other obvious consumer sense, that good packaging capitalises on, is the sense of touch. And this is, of course, still relevant for both in-store and online purchases but in very different ways. The consumer’s sense of touch in store may be stimulated by a tactile pack, influencing their purchasing decision at the point of sale. In contrast, the e-commerce led consumer has made their decision without ever touching the pack. However, it still has the ability to surprise and delight the purchaser on unboxing, or what has become known as the ‘second moment of truth’.

A win-win scenario for tactile packaging is to incorporate finishes that are visibly tactile when photographed. This allows brands to promote packs through platforms such as AR and social media in order to generate interest. For example, Seed’s Paper Bottles, featured in The Dieline are visibly rustic. Similarly, the contrasting print and texture on Skinsmiths minimalist beauty range is ideal for giving a sense of depth to the pack on social channels such as Pinterest and Instagram.

At Creation, we’ve also explored the use of tactile finishes. For example, a food compliant UV flexo rough texture varnish, with partner Pulse Roll Label Products. You can read more about it in this Packaging Europe article.

Tactile packaging enhancing the sensory experience will remain a core feature as multi-sensory packaging designs are developed. However, its likely that despite consumer familiarity with the various textures of packaging beneath their fingertips tactility will maintain its position as a feature that goes largely unnoticed. The key for manufacturers will be how to combine the staple sensory element of touch with more wow-factor elements such as sound, taste or smell.

Sense of the future

With so many new technical developments in packaging emerging, it could soon be the case that we’ll see – or rather touch and taste – packaging that we haven’t seen before. For example, these compostable straws by Loliware or this biodegradeable seaweed-based food packaging and dinnerware by Evoware (both courtesy of TrendWatching).

While this applies more to the foodservice sector than retail packaging at present, it’s interesting that it’s now considered a feasible solution to a sustainability crisis, rather than just wild and wonderfully idealistic.

The same goes for scented packaging. Scented products, traditionally associated with the personal care sector, have been around for quite some time. But in a world where KFC nail polish is actually a thing (!) we’re moving closer to the food industry, and potentially food packaging, adopting some of the techniques used by other sectors to enhance engagement and boost sales. Of course, the obvious note of caution here would be the need for such packaging to be completely food safe.

By incorporating sensory elements in to print and packaging, we have the ability to excite the consumer, leaving a truly lasting impression. In the omni-channel environment in which packaging needs to perform today, this can make or break the decision for repeat purchase. Particularly in an environment where brand loyalty is no longer the consumer’s key motivator.

The same sensory element may ‘talk’ to consumers very differently depending on the purchasing scenario. But surely this is the strength of multi-sensory packaging – to be able to speak the consumer’s language from multiple consumer touch points in the supply chain.

If you’d like to speak to us about incorporating innovative elements to your packaging, please get in touch today.

Contact us on +44 (0) 1327 312444  or info@creation-repro.com
and we’ll be happy to help