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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 20-Sep-2019
Posted by: Angela HENGSBERGER

These 5 innovations show why packaging matters

Packaging has many functions: It protects the contents, makes them durable, transportable and storable. It serves as an information carrier for logistics and consumers and is also an important advertising ambassador. However, many innovations in packaging show that it can do much more. Learn about five innovations that protect consumers from counterfeit products, reduce environmental impact and stimulate the recycling cycle, attract consumer attention and provide tips on how to use the content.

1. Saving resources with green plastic

The environmental compatibility of packaging is increasingly influencing purchasing decisions. This was the result of a survey of consumers from 12 different countries. PET bottles have less good cards. But as early as 2017, an environmentally friendly alternative to this oil-based raw material for many different packaging materials could come onto the market.

Polyethylene furan - PEF for short - is made from 100 percent vegetable raw material and is completely recyclable. This innovative material has even more advantages over PET bottles. This makes it possible to produce thinner or lighter bottles. PEF is also more heat-resistant, but requires lower temperatures than PET for processing. Certain foods and beverages can also be stored longer. All these properties not only protect the environment, but also the costs for manufacturers and users.

The globally operating packaging group Alpla from Vorarlberg is also involved in the development of PEF. Together with Coca Cola, Danone and Swire Pacific, Alpla supports the Dutch company Avantium in bringing PEF to market. Avantium has developed the technology for the production of PEF. As a technology leader, Alpla contributes its decades of experience in the processing of plastics to the further development of PEF. In mid-March 2016, BASF and Avantium announced the establishment of a joint venture for the production and marketing of PEF. So the "green plastic" is getting serious.

Trend Collection Packaging


Intelligent packaging provides tips for use and helps logistics

One in five google via smartphone in the supermarket to find out about products. This is stated in the Food Report 2016 of the German Ministry of Agriculture. This high proportion is astonishing because it is still extremely difficult for consumers to obtain information on a particular product locally. Scanning the EAN or QR code printed on the packaging is only a little faster than typing it in using the on-screen keyboard. And also Augmented Reality applications did not really inspire the user masses until today.

The British beverage group Diageo and the Norwegian electronics company Thinfilm show how communication between packaging and smartphone could really work smoothly with the Intelligent Bottle. Their printed label can communicate with the consumer's smartphone via NFC - just touch the product.

In this way, the packaging can not only reveal everything about its content, but also provide contextual information. If the product is still in the shop, it can draw the customer's attention to promotions. If it is already in the refrigerator of the buyer, it can offer suitable cocktail recipes for the season. The label also reveals all their movements within the entire supply chain, indicates whether the packaging has already been opened and makes the product counterfeit-proof.


A QR code, hologram and app protect against counterfeiting

Especially the certainty that it is an original product is becoming more and more important. Counterfeit products for daily use are on the rise - ten percent of these are already medicines and pharmaceuticals. Packaging and labels can help to prevent counterfeit products from reaching both retailers and customers. 

How this works is demonstrated by a solution from Salzburg-based start-up Authentic Vision. They produce labels with printed QR codes including hologram. During the production of the labels, a three-dimensional photo of the hologram is created and stored together with the serial number. When purchasing a drug, for example, the customer can use the "CheckIfReal" app to check whether the product is genuine or not. The advantages of this method over radio technologies, such as the intelligent bottle, are the much lower manufacturing costs. Moreover, smartphones with camera and installed QR readers are (still) much more common than devices that are NFC or even RFID capable. 


Functional ink lights up packages and informs users 

An invention by the German start-up Saralon also enhances the importance of packaging. A special ink can be used to print electronic applications such as displays, batteries or touch sensors on the package. Possible application: In shops, packaging that glows as soon as it is attacked can generate more attention and sales at the point of sale (POS). Or a small LED screen is printed on the package of a medicine. If someone tears open the package, the display goes out and indicates that the medicine was already open. Conventional printing machines can also print the ink on the packaging. Even large runs can be produced at low cost.


Personal packaging inspires consumers

Not only do conspicuous features such as luminous packages make a product more attractive to consumers, but also when it appeals to them personally. This was clearly demonstrated by the "share a coke" campaign in 2014. In order to be able to offer everyone his personal Coke, the beverage company in the USA simply printed the 250 most popular first names on cans and bottles and let the consumers themselves make suggestions in the social media. Consumers thanked the company and helped it to increase sales and attract a lot of attention.

The Coke campaign drew the attention of more and more brand owners to the possibilities of digital printing for packaging. Digital printing solutions allow the production of short runs and individualized packaging. Digital packaging printing will grow strongly in the coming years. printmate.de has developed one of the many innovations in this area. The Berlin-based start-up specializes in the production of individual packaging for online retailers. Using a web tool, customers can design the packaging themselves and order quantities of just 100 or more. The founder of the start-up, Julian Jost, wants to lead the packaging out of the logistics corner in online trade, after all, the box is a customer's first physical contact with the online provider. The packaging of the goods becomes the individual business card of the retailer.


Conclusion: Innovations in packaging

It doesn't just depend on the packaging - that's true. But nevertheless we attach ever more importance to it and increase our demands on it: We make sure that it is environmentally friendly and can be integrated into a recycling cycle. We demand more and more information about the content. We want to be wooed and seduced by her. And: We also want to be able to use the product better through smart packaging. One thing is certain: the packaging industry will continue to report groundbreaking and breathtaking innovations that one would not actually expect from a product's accessories, which often receive little attention.

Trend Collection Packaging


Born and raised in Vienna. Since 2012 she has been in charge of Business Development at LEAD Innovation with the functions marketing, sales and communication.

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