"Forgive me, connecting my packs, show me the why!"

Keran Turakhia from Hive paid a visit to November's Active Intelligent Packaging World Congress in Amsterdam. Here, Keran reveals the conference's primary messages, themes and market observations.

This week I'm at the fascinating #AIPIA Conference in #Amsterdam 😀 #packaging #intelligence #intel #FMCG

A photo posted by Keran Turakhia (@keranturakhia) on

Having spoken at the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association World Congress when the organisation just started a couple of years ago, it was encouraging to see how the conference has grown in both size and interest. The 'Internet of Things' or indeed the 'Internet of Packaging' and 'Smart Packaging' were all in mode and presented with enthusiasm. Keynote presenters claimed that all products will be linked to the internet and the digital world and could even be descibed as 'the new oil'. It will be the early adopters or the leaders who embrace new technology that will win.

Whether packs feature digital print, NFC chips or electronic circuit boards, they will undoubtably have a unique pack ID, linking every pack to the internet.

This brings lots of advantages:

  • Connectivity
  • Consumer engagement
  • Ability to track product for its life cycle
  • Methods to handle anti-counterfeiting
  • Data... The data must be precious

Packaging will be the media to connect a brand directly to its consumers.

The power of this technology is quite impressive. So, why have most brands been proverbially living in the dark ages? Why are they resitant to a unique pack ID? What is stopping them? Why is it so difficult to see real life uses of new technologies like NFC or electronic chips on packaging?

During coffee, I met a Director in innovation for a leading CPG brand who shall remain anonymous, and I asked him, "How are you finding the conference?"

“Mmm..." came the reply, “It's impressive but forgive me but I’m missing the why? We are a humble CPG brand and I can’t see applications for us to use the new technology that will justify the cost."

“...forgive me, I am struggling to find the WHY?"

He hit the nail on the head. The unfortunate reality is that most of the technology discussed does not allow brands to adopt at a ROI that is clear and visible.

Tom of Cambridge Design Consultants summarised the market very well; for CPG brands, the cost of NFC will probably inhibit usage for a long time to come. He suggested that currently the only viable technologies to connect branded packaging with the internet are unique alphanumeric codes or QR codes.

Tom’s summary to the industry:

"Three pieces of solid advice...

  1. Think about the job to be done... not Tech Push
  2. Smart packaging means an elegant solution to a real problem. It can be zero Tech
  3. Make informed decisions based on real consumer insights"

So, what advice can we offer to our customers in the harsh world of FMCG? Keep focussing the industry on the problems; market share, increasing sales, protecting and growing brand equity, ROI... don’t get blinded by new tech and science!

Hopefully in 2 years time the AIPIA World Congress will be full of practical examples with clear ROI, demonstrating the power of smart packaging to drive sales.

Until then, give Hive a call. Hive have 10 years of experience linking FMCG brands to the digital age through unique codes on pack. We help brands to confront practical challenges like driving trial, incentivising frequency of purchase and growing brand value through interactive promotions that make a consumer connect directly with the brand through its packaging.