Nathan Dube

By: Nathan Dube on January 23rd, 2020

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What Is Interactive Packaging?

Packaging Materials | The Business of Packaging | Packaging Psychology

When packaging invites you to interact with it, causing you to engage in activities like coloring, crushing, folding, listening, playing, reading, and etc., it pulls you into the brand and allows you to connect with the product in a way that traditional packaging supplies do not. These are the goals of interactive packaging. But what exactly is interactive packaging and how does it work? What are some examples of successful interactive packaging in the real world? In this post we will take a look at some excellent examples of interactive packaging and explore the hows and whys of this style of packaging.


What is Interactive Packaging?


Interactive packaging can be part of virtually any packaging supply, simple or complicated. It is an approach commonly used by brands to get their customers to interact not only with the product inside, but the packaging itself. Some examples of interactive packaging would include wine bottles with coloring or "connect the dots" labels which invites the drinker to draw upon the label.


Another type of interactive packaging would be a box used to ship a t-shirt that has folding instructions to turn the box into a clothes hanger. And while there are many different examples of whimsy and fun in interactive packaging, some of the applications are useful to alert consumers to the quality of the product inside.


For example, some MAP (or modified atmosphere packaging) supplies have freshness indicating stickers (see example two in the linked article) placed upon the outside of the package of certain meat products. These white stickers which are shaped like an hour glass will slowly turn blue from top to bottom as the product inside reaches near spoilage. Once the bottom half of the hour glass is fully blue, the meat inside is no longer safe for consumption and must be disposed of.


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Why Use Interactive Packaging?


Interactive packaging has a lot to offer brands who are seeking to connect with their customer base on a more engaged level. It offers many different opportunities to pull the consumer into a more dynamic relationship with the product and the company who is selling it. Regardless of whether the packaging supply is enhanced with digital or analog interactive capabilities, using interactive packaging will help you to get your products into the hands of customers in way that is unique when compared to traditional packaging materials.


In a world where countless brands are vying for the attention of the consumer, interactive packaging offers the ability to get a leg up on the competition who chooses not to utilize such tools. Relying simply on design, colors, typography and traditional aesthetics may be problematic when going up against a competitor who is leveraging interactive packaging to get consumers to play or inspect a product prior to purchase. If a consumer gets a product into their hand because they answer the call to engagement via the interactivity of a product, there is an increased chance they will purchase said item.


Business man pointing the text Customer Experience


Who Should Use Interactive Packaging?


When it comes to which type of business should use interactive packaging, really the answer is simple. Anyone who wants to drive customer engagement with their products can likely benefit from implementing some type of interactive packaging. Furthermore, while some types of interactive packaging may be too costly for some businesses to implement, there are cheaper alternatives. Sometimes, the most simple implementation of interactive dynamics can pull a larger audience without a huge financial investment.


For example, Blk Water (see item 12 in the link) used a simple plastic bottle with black text to conceal a hidden message to their buyers which can only be seen after the bottle is empty. This produces a sense of surprise and keeps the customer engaged with the product even after the product inside is gone.  When it comes to capturing the attention of the consumer in 2020 and beyond, companies and brands are going to have think outside of the box. Well, that or they completely redesign the box...


Regardless of the products you sell, chances are, interactive packaging probably has something to offer your business if you are selling packaged products. And with a little imagination, you just might be able to engage your customers with interactive elements by using virtually the same materials you already are (as noted with the water above). Sometimes simply changing the design of packaging while using the same materials can generate an interactive experience with consumers.



Potential Drawbacks


Once again we come to the great concern of the environmental impact of packaging materials. When considering the potential problems with interactive packaging, it makes sense that this is a top concern. Unless the packaging uses a single type of recyclable material, it may prove complicated to recycle. When choosing to implement interactive packaging designs, it is important to consider what the impact on our planet earth will be.


Using two or less materials that are proven to be recyclable and forgoing the use of adhesives that could complicate the recycling process are both excellent considerations. It would also do you well to find out what impact inks, digital elements, no-recyclable materials and other common interaction boosting elements will have when combined with your packaging materials. You should research in advance if it is possible to negate the use of any item that will prevent sustainability, reduced waste and increased recyclability.




If you are looking for a way to set yourself apart from the "pack" a good way to accomplish said goal may be interactive packaging. By choosing the right materials and taking a look at your products, you should be able to source both environmentally friendly and engaging packaging supplies. By using packaging that invites your customers to physically, emotionally and psychological interact with your products, you will be able to draw their attention away from your competitors and towards your brand.


As we head into the first chapter of 2020, you can bet that many companies will be using interactive packaging in an effort to draw more consumer engagement. Whether these engagements manifest educational, entertaining or thought provoking experiences, chances are, the brands who choose to creatively use interactivity as part of their packaging will see a return on investment.


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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.