Brand Enhancement by Electronics in Packaging
The nineteenth century saw ubiquitous black and white printing. The twentieth century was one of color printing. However, we are now in the century of printed electronics taking over from that. Nowhere will the impact be more obvious than packaging because the new electronics transforms much more than the human interface. It leverages the usefulness of the product itself and performs other functions such as tracking, tracing and reduction of theft and counterfeiting.
The show so far
Electronics is already used in packaging from winking rum and talking pizza boxes to aerosols that emit electrically charged insecticide that chases the bug. We even have medication that records how much is taken and when and prompts the user. Reprogrammable mobile phone decoration has arrived. But that is just a warm up. The key enabling technology - printed electronics - is about to reduce costs of electronics suitable for packaging by 99%. Consequently, many leading brand owners have recently put multidisciplinary teams onto the adoption of the new paper-thin electronics on their high volume packaging. It will provide a host of consumer benefits and make competition look very tired indeed. This is mainly about modern merchandising - progressing way beyond static print - and dramatically better consumer propositions.
Electronic packaging, "e-packaging" addresses the need for brands to reconnect with the customer or face oblivion from copying. That even applies to retailer own brands.
E- packaging addresses the ageing population which is creating a demand for very low cost self diagnosis and treatment using disposable packages. Russia and Italy will have about 60% dependent elderly by 2050 for example. There will be insufficient physicians, nurses and carers to provide care the old way. That calls for disposable medical testers and drug delivery devices. Electronic packaging addresses the fact that one third of us have difficulty reading ever smaller instructions. It can appeal to many human senses so fit people are captivated and the dyslexic, illiterate and those shaking from a disease can cope. For example, it can electrically change texture or vibrate to signal something using the sense of touch. The package can talk - using your sense of hearing and scrolling large text is a much better use of the sense of sight than ever smaller fonts when static print is used to cram in ever more information on products and packaging.
Premium pricing will arise from greatly enhanced products, thanks to packaging that leverages the function of the product and is reusable as an electronic product itself. Valuable electronic tearoffs as rewards will become viable as will packaging that interacts with mobile phones and computers. Startling technical advances will be brought to bear such as invisible electronics, edible electronics and stretchable electronics.