“It’s always impressive to see how a one-off design can create a new sense of excitement”

Hear from Josh Brooks, our marketing & community director at London Packaging Week, on the most exciting innovations in the sector.

In the run-up to the Packaging Innovations & Empack event in May, which smart packaging innovations are you most excited about it?

One of the most interesting areas of development is the crossover between a product’s packaging as a physical object and the digital experience that it can offer to consumers. The pandemic has made us all much more willing to use QR codes and brands are exploring and experimenting with their use.

An increasingly common way to do this is through creating augmented reality experiences. Skittles, for instance, recently ran a promotion supporting Pride where scanning the QR code on a white packet of the sweets led consumers to a special AR experience that showed what was billed as the world’s biggest rainbow.

In the luxury space, an area I am particularly interested in is how blockchain and internet of things technologies are finding their way into packaging to help ensure that a product is not a counterfeit. One recent example is a tequila called OTACA. The brand incorporates a smart tag into its bottle that can connect to the internet and verify the authenticity of the product.

Similar types of technology are being tested in some new refill systems which, of course, is one of the big areas of packaging development when it comes to sustainability. The principle is that using this technology can help companies track the whereabouts of a specific bottle or pack to understand whether, and how often, it is being reused.

What design innovations are catching your eye these days?

I’m a big fan of limited edition packs, especially ones where artists, fashion designers or architects bring an unusual look or feel to a pack. In the spirits world, architect Daniel Libeskind created an incredibly beautiful and striking angular bottle for Hennessy that looked completely different to anything the cognac brand had done before. I love the playful limited editions that water brand Perrier currently has on
sale, a collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

There are so many more examples, but it’s always impressive to see how a one-off or limited edition packaging design can create a new sense of excitement around a product. 

How is packaging making the world a better place, beyond sustainability?

Inclusivity is a big area of development for packaging. A lot of work is being done where packs are designed to help make the product, or information about that product, more accessible for people with disabilities.

One recent example, for blind or partially sighted people, is a smart packaging development from cereal brand Kellogg’s. The company has begun adding a tag, called NaviLens, to all its cereal boxes in Europe. This tag allows a smartphone to detect a unique on-pack code and play back labelling information such as nutritional and allergen details.

Away from the grocery sector, Microsoft made headlines a couple of
years ago when it created an easyopen accessible pack for its Xbox Adaptive Controller. The box was designed to allow gamers with disabilities to access the product more easily and was awarded the top prize in the Pentawards, the world’s biggest packaging design competition.

All these topics – and many more -will be on the programme at our Packaging Innovations & Empack event in May. There, thousands of
packaging designers and technologists will be meeting to learn about
the possibilities for their brand’s next packaging innovations – we can’t
wait to see everyone there.

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