Brand Enhancement by Electronics in Packaging
When useful electronics is fitted to packaging, it typically justifies 0.01 to 0.03% of product cost as with 12 billion anti-theft tags currently fitted to products every year at 3-5 cents each. IDTechEx figures in 2020 are consistent with this rule of thumb. We see the really large volumes being met with winking, scroll turning text, speech, preset timers, status monitoring, electronic rewards and so on being met only when they are fitted for a few cents.
Nostalgic of a bygone age
Most packaging is remarkably nostalgic of a bygone age. Mankind got to the moon over forty years ago but we cannot see how much is left in an aerosol can. Yet it only takes one brand to modernise and the others must come running. Little wonder that branded products are losing market share to easily produced copies and the packaging industry is suffering from wafer thin margins as it lets itself be commoditised.
Taking a lead
In contrast, this year, Kenneth McGuire of Procter & Gamble, the largest consumer packaged goods company in the world, gave a fascinating talk on the general needs they have from printed electronics. He described P&G's famous "two moments of truth" - one when a consumer is in the store and decides whether or not to choose their product and the other when the consumer uses the product. P&G is interested in using printed electronics to enhance products at those moments. He highlighted that printed electronics does not necessarily have to be cheap - value is more important.
For example, he cited how P&G launched teeth whitening Crest strips, which are sold for about $50. This was in comparison to spending $350 and an hour at the dentist or purchasing uncomfortable gum trays from stores. P&G deals in high volume product throughput so scalability is crucial for them to consider projects, as is safety, affecting, for example, the materials that can be used. He would like to see more printed electronics providers offering final products rather than just components.
For more on printed electronics attend Printed Electronics Asia 2009 or Printed Electronics USA 2009.