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Digital Packaging

26 Mar 2021

Digital packaging solutions for enhanced brand and product experiences

Syndicate Design AG is an owner-managed branding and design agency for strategic brand development. Founded in Hamburg in 1992, the agency's core disciplines are packaging, retail, corporate and digital design. It is managed by board members Sven Carsten Alt, Lukas Eichenberg, Daniel Graf and Heiko Hinrichs and, with more than 45 employees, has consistently ranked among Germany's leading design agencies for many years. The agency's long-standing clients include Arla Foods, Bosch, dm, Ferrero, HiPP, Nestlé, as well as OMV and UBS.

Daniel Graf, CEO of Syndicate Design AG

Daniel Graf, CEO of Syndicate Design AG

You say about yourself that as a brand and design agency, you look at the possibilities of "digital packaging" from the perspective of the brand and the end consumer. What opportunities arise from this holistic approach?

Graf: The possibilities of digital packaging are so diverse, both from a brand perspective and from an end consumer perspective, that we can't even foresee today what we can expect in the future. It's up to us to explore and push the boundaries. On the one hand, the possibilities lie in expanding product and brand experiences in ways never seen before, and on the other hand, in optimizing logistics processes and sustainability.

We distinguish between three basic forms of digitalization in "digital packaging". Each of these in turn offers different opportunities for enhanced brand and product experiences.

The first level of digital packaging provides an interface from the analog to the digital world. One example of this is QR codes, which are applied to the packaging and can be recognized and read via smartphone, tablet or data glasses. In addition to QR codes, there are now already a whole range of other digital interfaces that make virtual or augmented reality applications possible. Some of these markers are integrated into the printed image in such a way that we cannot even see them with our eyes, but they can still be read via the smartphone. RFID chips and beacons are other ways of digitally networking products.

Packaging that adds an active or dynamic component to passive or static products through digital enhancements such as LEDs or sound is the second stage of digitization and can, of course, be combined with the first stage to offer an even more comprehensive product experience.

Purely virtual packaging is used in online stores, for example, and is the third form of digital packaging. There, for example, they support the presentation of goods and products specially adapted to the medium.

What are the advantages for a brand of digitizing its packaging, and will digital packaging be the market standard in the foreseeable future?

Graf: The advantages of digital packaging are obvious. The information we find on analog packaging today is limited by the available print space on the one hand, but on the other hand it can no longer be changed once the packaging has been produced. Digital packaging would have to hold only a fraction, if any, of the product information in analog form.

The option to retrieve product information digitally allows us to use packaging globally across language barriers, but also to adapt content and messages once the packaging has been produced. In addition, we can tailor the information to the needs of the end consumer, meaning the same packaging can provide different content depending on who is viewing it via smartphone or data glasses. Digital packaging will become the market standard in the future due to these serious advantages over purely analog packaging.

Technological gimmicks for consumers

Technological gimmicks for consumers

What real benefits can end consumers expect from "digital packaging"? Where does the "technological gimmick" end and real added value begin?

Graf: Digital packaging will provide end consumers with more product information that is more relevant to their needs. Based on their digital profile settings on their smartphone or, in the future, on their data glasses, they will be able to actively influence what information is displayed to them and what content is played. This could mean, for example, that certain ingredients, such as allergens, are displayed earlier on food packaging in the case of intolerances. The "technological gimmick" stops where I offer end consumers real information, product or brand experiences tailored to their needs. By the way, technological gimmicks can also be fun, and we shouldn't leave out the entertainment factor.