The future is here. Everyday, millions of people walk around with high powered tiny computers with glowing LCD screens in their pockets. We use these devices to catch a ride, buy food, prepay for movie tickets, find deals on everything under the sun and learn new things about our world. As this technology continues to evolve, we will see more and more packaging that we can interact with digitally. And while digital packaging is still a relatively new phenomenon, it will soon be prevalent everywhere. What is digital packaging exactly? Join me in the article below and we will explore this new exciting chapter in the history of the packaging industry.


What Is Digital Packaging?


Digital packaging is packaging that is made using digital technology, three dimensional software, printed electronics and digitally controlled manufacturing protocols. It is any packaging that features connected technology including QR codes, augmented reality, smartphone scanning and so on. Digital packaging is smart packaging that is an important dynamic within the ecosystem of the digital marketing realm.


It promotes interaction with consumers and may collect data about its journey from production to disposal. Digital packaging attempts to enhance the relationship between companies and consumers and works through processes of engagement with buyers including but not limited to gamification, education, entertainment and other interactive activities.


Why Use Digital Packaging?


Digital packaging promotes physical, psychological and creative experiences with consumers and draws them into a more dynamic relationship with products, brands and companies. Using digital packaging creates a sense of wonder and excitement in the context of novelty during the buyers journey and increases the chances of a consumer buying your product. A good example of this would be 19 Crimes Wine. This is a brand who's augmented reality wine labels have made a particularly big impression on consumers and they have the sales to prove it.


I actually recently bought a bottle of 19 Crimes Wine exclusively to see the augmented reality label which features a black and white photo of a famous criminal. It was a dark red wine called "The Banished" and featured an image of a criminal named James Wilson. Using the free 19 crimes smartphone app, I held the phone in front of the bottle. The image on the phone literally came to life with a three dimensional talking James Wilson explaining his own story. The video below shows how this works.



This brilliant example of digital packaging shows how compelling the product is and how it inspires people to interact with the brand on a visual, physical and psychological level. The use of digital packaging allows 19 Crimes to completely stand out from their competitors in a way that that is truly unique. While not the only wine featuring this technology, they are few and far between. Brands who have chosen to implement this technology for their wines have seen a gigantic increase in sales and have generated millions of downloads for the app that allows for this magic to happen.


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Who Should Use Digital Packaging?


Digital packaging offers vast and varied opportunities to businesses of all kinds. From wine to toys, from lawn mowers to food, the possibilities are literally endless. And while digital packaging offers major benefits from interactive and entertaining experiences like the one shown above, there are many other applications that it can be used for. From providing better tracking through the supply chain to providing in depth information beyond what can be written on a label, digital packaging allows for a massive increase in data collection and the quality of the data collected.


One of the major advancements in digital packaging is the rise of NFC or "near field communication" technology. NFC uses short range magnetic field induction to allow two or more digital devices to instantly transfer data when they are touched together or held about an inch apart. NFC technology can be seen in applications such as apple's "apple pay" which allows for consumers to pay for a product at the checkout counter with a simple swoosh of their phone.


Hand holding smartphone with hand drawn media icons and symbols concept


Scanning applications for smartphones also allow for the use of symbols, glyphs, pictures and other images like QR codes to be scanned. The scanned image can produce far more information than a traditional label could possibly contain. This means better coding, tracking and related dynamics for your packaging line and each and every product you sell. This kind of technology improves the speed and efficiency of your line and makes for a smooth running supply chain. With digital packaging, speed to market also greatly increases.


Potential Drawbacks


While digital packaging certainly comes off as cutting edge and cool, many forms of it are more expensive than traditional packaging supplies. The cost to produce augmented reality animations, video, printed electronics and complicated gamified packages may be far too expensive for many companies. Another potential downside to digital packaging is it's environmental impact.


Packaging supplies that feature actual electronics, video screens or complicated designs with many different types of materials and adhesives are not easy to recycle and in some cases virtually impossible to recycle. If you are planning on using digital packaging supplies do some homework and educate your self about each type available and look to implement those which are easier to recycle.




Despite the challenges with recycling for some types of digital packaging, it will continue to become a staple of modern packaging supplies as we move into the 2020s. With a proven track record of boosting sales and engaging customers on a level not seen before, it will assuredly become one of the hottest trends in the coming years.


Whether it is augmented reality, printed electronics, QR codes, scannable images, or NFC applications, you can be sure that we will be seeing more manifestations of digital packaging with each passing day. As we continue to see technological advancements in digital technologies, we will likely see ever more dazzling crossovers from digital to physical reality via the medium of packaging supplies. Like it or not, the future is here and it is sure become more interesting as digital packaging continues to evolve.


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About Nathan Dube

As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Industrial Packaging, I am honored to create content for such a phenomenal company and work with one of the greatest teams in the Packaging Industry. Whether creating a video, writing blog posts or generating other pieces of content and multimedia, I am always excited to help educate and inspire our prospects and clients to reach their highest potential in regards to their packaging processes and needs.