How to get started on a tech-connected packaging initiative (for busy marketers)

At WWDC 2017 in June, Apple made a BIG announcement. Their Apple iOS 11 supports reading NFC tags for iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, as reported by

This is good news for the NFC community and for any consumer brand that wants to engage consumers differently by connecting product packaging to the digital space.

Mobile devices are transforming the way we live and if you haven’t started talking about how your product packaging can get connected, now is the time.

I’d like to help you get started!

Packaging is an important touch-point of the consumer product use journey. Beyond the sale, once the product is taken home by consumers, it’s the packaging that will be seen, touched, opened, closed and read over and over again.

Consider giving consumers a new experience during at-home and in-use moments.

packaging, omnichannel

Known as active, connected, or smart-style, intelligent features will become more common on product packaging.

At Innovation Nation held at the AGO in Toronto, Microsoft said: “The last great experience your customer had with any company is the same experience they expect from every company.”

NFC (near field communication), QR codes, RFID and augmented reality offer new consumer experiences such as storytelling, information sharing, and cross-promotional capabilities.  It’s time to connect consumer devices to that carton, stand up pouch, or tube and get consumers socially excited about an experience.

How does a brand team get started?

Most marketing teams rely on their agency or get started with an online search for smart packaging, intelligent packaging or active packaging examples. On-line, they get a ton of broad-based ideas and list of suppliers.

However, it’s usually the “getting started” part that is the most difficult. You are not even at the idea stage. You are just talking about how to differentiate and excite consumers with smart-style packaging during leadership team meetings.

Here are the 3 tips for busy marketers on how to get started on a connected packaging initiative!

Follow these steps to begin a successful activation journey:

  1. Get inspired – Check in with customer-facing teams to better understand consumer behaviours. Look in trade publications for recent best practices in any category. Go to social media to learn what’s going on. Look at Twitter hashtags as an example. Attend a webinar or conference on connected packaging.
  2. Write a short creative brief. Now that you have an inspiring idea about the consumer need you will create or solve, write down your desired step by step description of the consumer experience your intelligent packaging feature delivers at every stage of engagement. (I know you haven’t selected the technology you will use yet and your knowledge of what the technology can do is limited. That is ok. We are just in a discovery phase here). Identify desired outcomes in the brief such as increased sales %, brand awareness, social media metrics or new consumer acquisition potentials.
  3. Determine a budget. – This is very important. Technology suppliers will ask you for a budget early in the quoting process. If you do not know what budget you have to work with, the initiative could get watered down or, you could end up being disappointed because they showed you something well above your budget. A ballpark range is ok.

The development process is a journey. Quite often, you will have the desired experience in mind and the technology team will need to modify it to fit their capability. Don’t get discouraged, it happens all the time. Keep on going!

If you need help with your project, please reach out! Karen Blumel Consulting Inc. is a firm specializing in packaging innovation and I’d love to help you and your product packaging get tech-connected and sell more product!

Be well!


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