4 Ways 'The Future of Technology in Business' Affects Packaging
Last month, the sixth annual Philly Tech Week descended upon packagePRINTING's hometown of Philadelphia. Members of our sister brand, Target Marketing, attended the event. One panel that particularly caught our eye was “The Future of Technology in Business," sponsored by Brolik, a full service digital agency.
Taylor Knight, associate content editor of Target Marketing, interviewed four technology professionals to find out how the future of technology might affect the business landscape. As we listened to their insight, it became clear how the state of technological evolution will impact packaging. Here are some of our key takeaways — from a packaging perspective — on how technology will affect our industry:
"Technology is pervasive."
—Jeffrey Pennington, senior director of translational informatics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
When asked how technology has changed over the course of his career, Pennington made it clear that increased accessibility has been at the forefront. Technology is spreading, and has become accessible to those who are new to it and haven't been "trained" in it.
Packaging Perspective: Converters and brands need to be cognizant that not all users of technology are digital natives. Technology that is integrated into packaging needs to be easily used and understood by consumers of all levels of interest and experience. Smart and interactive packaging is beginning to take hold — particularly in the beer, wine and spirits industries — but if it's not intuitive or easy to interact with, it may detract from the purpose of the packaging, which is to stimulate purchasing decisions.
"Technology at its core, should be as simple as possible to bring you closer to your customer."
—Jason Brewer, co-founder and CEO, Brolik
Brewer was asked how technology can change the customer experience. His answer: It's important to keep it simple. He explained that if the technology is just a layer used to "seem cool or modern, you're doing the wrong thing." It needs to be used to bring a product or brand closer to the customer.
Packaging Perspective: If the technology you're incorporating into your label or package doesn't fit the brand’s personality or support its story, then it can become distracting. Christopher Hayes, principal and creative director at Forthright Strategic Design, made a few salient points about this topic in an interview with packagePRINTING on beer and wine label trends. Many times, technology — such as augmented reality — can come across as gimmicky. In reality, package printers should be worrying about the integrity of the label or package, and building a following based on the experience someone has interacting with the physical packaging.
"Worry about designing a beautiful [wine] label. If you can’t accomplish that in physical reality, you're not going to do it in augmented reality," he says. "As soon as you hold a mobile device up to your face, you're no longer living in the moment. The phone takes you somewhere else."
Moral of the story? Make sure your tech has a purpose, otherwise … lose it.
"Everyone is trying something new and you're not quite sure what is going to stick."
—Tim Philippo, cross car line project manager, Jaguar Land Rover N.A.
When asked if marketers are prepared for the future of technology, Philippo said he doesn't believe they are. Instead, he said it's like the Wild Wild West. Technological advancements and old-timey frontier days may seem like an odd comparison, but there are some parallels. There's no set of rules on how to implement technology, so companies are free to wield the latest developments to see if they have staying power. But, Philippo warns, not everything will stick.
Packaging Perspective: Recently, we've seen beer labels enhanced with augmented reality to bring beloved TV characters to life; we've heard of smart packaging that can alert you if a bottle of liquor has been tampered with; and we've even heard of the potential for RFID antennas on food packaging to alert a consumer if they're allergic to an ingredient. There are obviously some uses for technology that make packaging more interactive, but the potential is out there for packaging technology to be potentially lifesaving. It's just a matter of figuring out what resonates and sticking to it.
"[Mobile technology] is an intimate connection with [a] person."
—Chris Hunter, senior user interface engineering manager, Urban Outfitters
It's no secret that people are constantly connected. Because of this, marketers are going beyond the traditional means of interacting with and engaging with consumers and trying to target them where they can be found most often: on their phones. As Hunter explained when asked how mobile technology will change, "people think of [phones] as an extension of themselves." It's part of almost everything they do. Using beacons and localization is fueled by mobile technology and relies on consumers' attachment to their devices.
Packaging Perspective: There is opportunity in the packaging industry to use consumers' constant connection as an advantage in creating interactive packaging and labels. However, it is important to remember who your audience is. For example, there is the potential for adding medicinal information to prescriptions, or even dosage alerts, via a QR code or RFID code. But, if the majority of consumers being prescribed the drug are over, say, the age of 80, are they really going to be pulling out their mobile device to scan the prescription when they get it home from the pharmacy? Probably not. Depending on the product, though, it could be a worthwhile investment to create packaging that makes the consumer's life even the tiniest bit easier.
For more information and to watch the Target Marketing video, please click here.