Two Canadian industry associations, one representing printable electronics, the other representing packaging companies, have joined forces to create the Intellipack Leadership Council, a group of 11 executives who will collaborate on strategies to expand the use of intelligent packaging for a wide range of consumer products, the Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association (CPEIA) and PAC, Packaging Consortium announced on Feb. 1.

The council will meet on a monthly basis to develop, organize and deliver project committees, seminars, and implementation strategies regarding intelligent packaging technology, which incorporates printable electronics such as sensors, smart labels, and wireless NFC (near field communications) into everything from cardboard boxes to bottles, council member and CPEIA president and CEO Peter Kallai told ITBusiness.ca.

“It’s a vehicle to share experiences and expertise, and a focal point for companies to come to for advice, or to network and develop the sector,” Kallai said.

The council is an extension of the Intellipack program, a joint CPEIA and PAC initiative launched last September to promote intelligent packaging, with each organization represented by at least five members, including Kallai and James Downham, president and CEO of PAC.

Companies represented on the council include Atlantic Packaging, the Molson Coors Brewing Co., Unilever, and the Xerox Research Centre of Canada. A full list can be found here.

In addition to announcing the Leadership Council, Intellipack recently released its first report, “Driving New Levels of Consumer Engagement through Intelligent Packaging.” Incorporating both information presented at Intellipack’s first Printed Electronics Intelligent Packaging Workshop last October, and the results from a survey of the 65 industry leaders who attended, the report outlines a few reasons that businesses might want to invest in intelligent packaging, along with several ways they can do so.

For example, a recent Deloitte survey discovered that 84 per cent of retail store visitors use their smartphones before or during a visit to the store, the Intellipack report says, with consumers who use their phones to look up a product’s information purchasing the product at a 40 per cent higher rate. Moreover, around 22 per cent of those shoppers spend more on their purchases than initially planned, Deloitte found.

IntelliPACK diagram 1
Source: Deloitte

This obviously creates an opportunity for brand owners to influence consumers, but it’s not as simple as creating a mobile app and letting smartphone users do the rest, the Intellipack report and CPEIA’s Kallai say.

For one thing, the number of points of contact between brand and consumer are increased, Kallai says.

“My daughter is 16 years old, and when she buys skin care products, she’s not only constantly researching information, but when she goes into a store she consults retail specialists,” Kallai says. “Perhaps she starts looking at a different product based on the recommendation of the specialist. Then she wants to know the public opinion of that, so she goes back to the Internet to research.”

Furthermore, once chosen there’s little indication the final product will retain the customer’s future loyalty, the Intellipack report says, with the research process starting all over again during their next visit.

IntelliPACK diagram 2
Source: Intellipack

That’s where intelligent packaging can come in, Kallai says, providing brand owners with an unexpected, compelling way to engage consumers by, for example, using a printed intelligent sensor display to let customers know when a product was packaged (above), or a smart label that lights up when cold (below).

IntelliPACK diagram 3
Source: Intellipack

It can also be used to activate a mobile app via NFC, as Kraft Foods once did by installing silicon chips into signs next to their products that invited consumers to tap their smartphones to access recipe content, download a nutrition app, or share the experience on Facebook.

On average, Kraft discovered that when the NFC chips were installed the period of consumer engagement rose from between five and 10 seconds to 48 seconds, and 36 per cent of shoppers converted their engagement into action, such as saving a recipe, downloading the Kraft app, or sharing the encounter with friends, according to the report.

For security-minded brands, intelligent packaging can also be used for brand protection, allowing consumers to ensure that certain premium items are authentic, or to incorporate anti-theft measures in a way that’s harder for potential shoplifters to remove.

Half of respondents believed using intelligent packaging to differentiate their product would be the most useful reason to implement it, according to a survey of attendees at last October’s workshop. But Kallai highlights other benefits, such as its ability to reduce food waste by accurately monitoring when products have spoiled.

“In North America we have been a laggard in the development of technology in this area, so we can be the leaders in applying it,” Kallai says.

IntelliPACK diagram 4
Results of a survey taken during Intellipack’s October workshop, in which attendees were asked what they would consider the best reason to invest in new technology. Source: Intellipack
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