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Packaging that appeals to all the senses
[September 24, 2009]

Packaging that appeals to all the senses

(M2 PressWIRE Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Cambridge, UK -- Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman of independent analyst company IDTechEx and co-author of "Brand Enhancement by Electronics in Packaging 2010-2020" report discusses using packaging to appeal to multiple sensors. In our daily lives we employ all of the ten basic senses - sight, touch, hearing, taste, smell, balance, acceleration, temperature, kinesthetic sense and pain. For example kinesthetic sense - knowing where your limbs are - is the basis of the hugely popular WiiTM game. We use these senses to be safe, informed and entertained and most of them are used in a sophisticated manner. For example, television and the video camera give us a moving image coupled with sound. 3D cinema, animated billboards and strobe effects in the disco are sophisticated uses of sight. So why is almost all packaging stuck in a time warp from about 100 years ago? Why do brand managers think it is enough to change the shape and color of packaging - maybe make it reusable as a container when its contents are gone? In a supermarket for example, nothing stands out. It is a monumentally boring experience to enter a supermarket. It is even difficult to find what you want, even if you do not crave excitement and novelty. Brand managers and brand facing suppliers are asleep on the job.

Learn from books and magazines Books and magazines have modernised to some extent. We have the e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle using a technology suitable for packaging. Children's books make noises when the pages are turned. Esquire magazine has had electronically driven moving images and advertisement. Several magazines have had embedded Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) inlays permitting consumer interaction with mobile phones and home computers.

Learn from posters and billboards Posters and billboards have seen some advances. Aroma emitting posters have been a success in Japan. Billboards with video have demonstrated huge pulling power. Conformal plastic film posters and billboards, printed with electronic inks, emit light in bright colours with animation, even wrapped around pillars and architectural features and on the outside of buses. They have promoted many soft drink, liquor, beer, designer goods, supermarket, car and other brands with up to 70% increase in dwell time and/or sales. Consider Point of Sale advertising, for example. Astudy by POPAI (Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute) at 220 supermarkets in 22 US cities showed a sales increase by animated media of up to 65% compared figures for traditional passive print. Other studies showed that dynamic media generate seven times more attention than static, paper-based media.

Electronics in packaging so far Electronics is occasionally used in packaging beyond the obvious success with anti-theft and RFID labelling for logistics, not brand enhancement yet. Historically, e-packaging has been largely constrained to using sight in a slightly better way - progressing from static color to a winking monochrome image for example - and very occasionally using hearing. Winking display labels activated when someone comes near are available but where are they used? This year, ACREO has supplied winking blue lettering to Cloetta bisquit in Sweden to go on cardboard multipacks. Coyopu Rum has had sequentially illuminating images emitting colored light in four segments on its bottle label. Mangia Media sells voice messaging activated by opening its pizza boxes, thus leveraging the static color advertisement it places on the box for various brand owners.

Imagination in short supply Packaging has almost no functionality comparable to what we enjoy elsewhere, such as toys with video, quality sound, the WiiTM game, the successful Toys R Us touch operated inflatable pillow radio, the slap on wrist intercom and interactive printed electronic board games. Stora Enso has an interactive electronic game on a paper lottery card including animated images. This type of thing is rarely if ever seen in or on packaging because those involved do not keep up with the latest technology or even benchmark what is happening in other industries.

Transfer success If only that level of imagination was applied to packaging, not least for brand enhancement. It could talk the form of clear scrolling instructions, the package becomes an electronic musical instrument after it is emptied, it vibrates to give a 3D brand message, it emits aroma when someone comes near. Arla Foods, the leading European dairy products company has pointed out that electroactive polymers could even such back down onto the cheese to stop it drying out. We could even know how much is left in our aerosol can. The list is endless.

Ten human senses There are ten human senses that that can be engaged by packaging. We now examine some potential examples and then examine how the package can itself have various senses.

Sight The World's first video in print advertisement appeared in the September edition of the American show business magazine "Entertainment Weekly". Why not in packaging for premium products? Broadcast network company CBS ran the advertisement to promote their Monday prime-time lineup in partnership with PepsiCo who endorsed Pepsi Max soda. The magazine with the embedded electronic inserts was delivered to a limited number of subscribers in the New York and Los Angeles areas.

The video is activated by turning the page. The battery lasts for about 65 to 70 minutes, and can be recharged with a mini USB cord. Earlier, in October 2008, Esquire magazine published limited editions with winking animated reflective displays driven by coin batteries - again, magazine innovating not packaging, which remains a drab, "me too" industry. Meanwhile, the new mobile phones project video on the wall and packages could do so.

With packaging, sight has to progress from looking at the static color images and text that everyone else uses. We need scrolling instructions, games and brand messages on the primary and secondary packages. We need winking images on primary, secondary and tertiary packaging, including on the part of the case used as a tray on the supermarket shelf - shelf attractors. Other electronic packaging will unfold to create animated, sensory point of sale displays.

Touch Touch may activate the instructions for example, or they will simply come on when a small amount of light is present as with the winking logos already available with key fobs. That avoids use of troublesome batteries. Coin cells are cheap but they can emit poisons when expired and choke babies. Note from this that the gift and novelty industry also has a lot to teach us. Even flashing lights make good shelf attractors on packages and promotional gifts on or in the package. Electroactive polymers can change texture for entertainment, brand uniqueness or simply reminding the patient when to take the pills.

Hearing The most impressive talking and recording labels and sheets come from Toppan Forms. They are an advance on the heavy conventional components in the talking gift card. They have copper foil loudspeakers. Most of the rest is printed - interconnects, battery and actuator - but there is a thin silicon chip, all in paper card thinner than one millimeter. In due course it will all be printed. In Japan, they are used as magazine inserts with overprinted brand promotions but they are suitable for use in and on packaging for instructions, games, tear offs and inserted promotions. Value engineering and sale in billions will pull the ex factory price well below one dollar and eventually down to a few cents, in our opinion.

Toppan Forms is one of the most imaginative companies in printed electronics. Part of the $13 billion Toppan Printing, it has such things as an interactive paper map that shows where you are in, say, a zoo and lights up to show your route to a desired place. Such technology can be used in packaging and generally for brand enhancement.

Taste, smell, balance and acceleration Packaging may employ taste with tearoff edible promotions, an interesting option here being the printing of electronics on food to give amusing sound and other effects. Smell will be exploited simply by copying the people making posters in Japan that emit an aroma when someone is near or the aroma cannons in Japanese supermarkets. Copy the room fragrance emitters that are used in the home, based on timers or proximity. Balance and acceleration can be used when the package becomes a toy. Accelerometers make your video camera show the picture the correct way up for example.

Temperature, kinesthetic sense, pain Temperature of packages is sometimes recorded as a function of time, mimicking the decay process but these labels have been too expensive for widespread use. They need displays and the much lower cost that comes from printing all the electronics and the end game here is the self-adjusting use-by-date. One third of people have difficulty reading instructions on packages. They need to flash, vibrate, emit a noise etc to remind us to take our pills. Perhaps they could emit a safe level of heat as another form of prompt? Kinesthetic sense is the basis of new Nokia mobile phones. You cannot remember your PIN access so you shake it in the way you recorded and you are granted access. WiiTM comes to mobile phones. Obviously it can come to packaging where the package is a game for example. Pain is used in electric fences for animals. Could the petfood make the neighbour's cat jump when he attempts to steal it? Can it deter unauthorised access to packaged poisons? Other senses There are seven other human senses but they are internal to the human body and more of interest to those involved in medical packaging. These senses may be involved as packages become the delivery mechanism for drugs etc into the human body. The drug delivering packages will have sensors monitoring the state of the human body so the right amount of drug is administered according to sensed need.

Giving your package senses of its own We can even make the package have senses rather than responding to our own senses. Yes, packages can record sound, take our picture, sense contents deteriorating, sense us being near or touching them and do something appropriate. There is much to develop here and printed electronics is making it all possible. Brand owners awake to all this will gain huge advantage. IDTechEx provides inspirational consultancy on packaging of the future and working samples of futuristic concepts.

Brand Enhancement by Electronics in Packaging IDTechEx's new report "Brand Enhancement by Electronics in Packaging 2010-2020" by Dr. Peter Harrop and Raghu Das reveals many ways in which brands can create a sharp increase in market share, customer satisfaction and profitability. For brand facing electronics companies that means a market of $7.7 billion by 2020, as analysed in the report. To gain very high volume, and therefore lowest costs, by selling across all industries, basic hardware platforms such as the very low cost talking label must be developed. These are discussed. There are 250 pages and a large number of original figures and tables - over 150. These detail market forecasts, statistics for associated industries, pros and cons, technology choices and lessons of success and failure - a lucid, compact analysis for the busy executive. There is much for both non-technical and technical readers.

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