The Next Generation of Packaging

AR article blog header

By Debbie Cintora, Account Manager and Keith Soergel, Graphic Designer

Consumers are faced with an abundance of options to choose from at retail. To stand out on shelf, it’s important to pique their interest with unique, attention-grabbing packaging. And with increasingly advancing technology, that doesn’t just have to mean eye-catching designs anymore. At the recent Fortis Solutions Summit, we got a first-hand look at the packaging innovations available to companies today.

Two major trends we saw for consumer packaging are sustainability (which should come as no surprise) and connectivity. Many food companies are already looking into ways to improve the sustainability of their packages. From plastics that are both biodegradable and compostable, to containers made from recycled marine plastics, to labels that don’t leave an adhesive residue and therefore keep containers fully recyclable, there certainly are plenty of ways for food brands to turn towards sustainability. But many in the industry haven’t considered how to bring modern technologies and interactivity to their packages.

A particularly exciting development is augmented reality (AR) packaging. With this technology, consumers are encouraged to view packages through a customized app, which uses the equivalent of facial recognition technology to identify the package and start the AR experience. The labels are transformed into animated videos—complete with sound if you so choose—that can interact with the environment around them, and even with characters from other packages.

The only limitation is how many animated experiences you develop and incorporate into the app. As technology evolves, we see AR integration becoming either accessible through one localized app (rather than a different one for each brand) or being scannable and viewable directly through a smartphone camera, just as QR codes are now scannable directly from your camera.

The most exciting thing about AR packaging? There’s no need to print new labels for the technology to work, since the app software is programmed to recognize your label on any smartphone (even older models without facial recognition integration). That being said, it’s worth considering how you want to let consumers know about your interactive packaging, whether through a callout directly on the package, in-store signage, or a social media campaign.

Currently, this technology is mostly being used on wine labels, such as Treasury Wine Estates’ “Living Wine Labels” collection. However, we see great opportunities for AR packages in the fresh produce industry as well. From sharing the inspiration for founding the brand, to showing how to make a favorite recipe, to farmers telling their stories, there are now endless ways for companies to engage with consumer—directly from the shelves of the grocery store.