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Smart packaging = stronger customer engagement

Ted Mininni, president of Design Force, Inc., specializing in package and licensing program design, talks about how smart packaging creates strong relationships between customer and brand.
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Packaging World:
How important is it to engage the consumer through package design?

Ted Mininni:
Using all of the design aspects of packaging to achieve customer engagement is at the core of our work at Design Force. Unless the customer is engaged, brand and packaging are ignored.

What excites you about smart packaging?
It ups the ante on engagement. While we use every visual cue in alignment with the brand in packaging—color, graphics, imagery, typography, package structure, and communication—there are exciting tools available now that we didn’t have in the past. Smart applications like QR [quick response] or 2D codes can be embedded on packaging. Savvy consumers who are comfortable with engaging via social media can simply scan packaging with their cell phones for more information about products.

How else can QR codes be used?
Consumers can download coupons or enter contests or sweepstakes. Younger consumers might scan codes to play games. All of that leads to greater engagement and brand interaction. That gets customers excited and involved with the brand in a more meaningful manner.

Is QR a current fad or a gimmick?
I think that’s unlikely given the 24/7 world we live in.

Which brands are using QR well, in your opinion?
I love what Wild Creations, a forward-thinking toy company, is doing with QR. Parents scanning the packaging can view You Tube video demos and read customer toy reviews. Retailers like Toys “R” Us are using QR codes to enable customers to receive discounts when they take pictures of various in-store images. The NHL’s Detroit Red Wings use QR codes in their programs so that fans can view cool videos when the codes are scanned. I believe this only scratches the surface. The possibilities are endless.

Besides QR, what other emerging technologies are appearing on smart packaging?
Another interactive technology called AR [augmented reality] is cool (see packworld.com/pod
cast-30404). Ben & Jerry’s “Moo Vision” program enables customers to get product information in an entertaining manner by scanning the packaging. SnapTag™ technology [from SpyderLynk (www.spyderlynk.com)] doesn’t even require special apps; the brand identity on packaging is a mobile portal. Customers simply snap and text a photo of the tag to the phone number that appears on-pack to begin a conversation with the brand. AC Golden’s Colorado Native Lager uses SnapTags, for example.

With more detailed information now available through these new technologies, do you believe packaging communication will decrease?
No. It’s still vitally important to establish a communication hierarchy on packaging that sells the brand and product in a targeted, differentiated manner.

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