10 minute read

The #1 Value of Smart Packaging

Smart packaging can make even passive products become active and connected to deliver branded experiences, influence engagement and return meaningful consumer insights.

Minimalistic products on store shelves


Traditional packaging functions to protect, contain, and communicate. Smart packaging can make even passive products become active to deliver branded experiences, influence engagement and return valuable consumer insights.

packaging and a smart phone

What is smart packaging?

Smart packaging is packaging that extends its function past the mere protection or housing of the product. A smart package can be made to reduce waste, provide security, demonstrate freshness, extend shelf life, aid sales at the point of purchase, and enhance ownership over the life of the product.

Smart packaging is an umbrella term that describes several types of packaging:

Active Packaging
Active packaging makes use of advanced materials to improve the quality or extend the shelf life of the product. Active packaging frequently makes use of thermochromic, temperature, moisture or bacteria control. Silica packets that absorb moisture are a great example of an active packaging technology.

Intelligent Packaging
Intelligent packaging involves indicators and sensors placed inside or outside the packaging that diagnose product conditions and relays relevant information to the user. Additionally, intelligent packaging can help with automation across the production line and supply chain. Freshness indicators on food packaging are an ideal example of intelligent packaging.

Connected Packaging
Connected packaging, sometimes called the internet of packaging, is packaging that connects brands and consumers through technology such as RFID, NFC, and QR codes. Connected packaging can be designed to deliver context-specific information related to the product in hand to answer commonly asked questions and/or enhance ownership of the product. Connected packaging also affords brands with the ability to deliver on their promise of transparency while collecting data to provide a deeper understanding of customer interest and behavior.

60% of consumers say brands should make it easier to see its vales at the point of sale

The value of using smart packaging

Packaging is the most valuable communication channel your brand has. No other medium reaches every single consumer whether that product was purchased online or at retail. Smart packaging brings together complementary technologies that provide meaningful value to consumers and returns actionable data to close information loops and improve future strategic decision-making.

Smart packaging technologies deliver real value to brands and consumers with:

A new source for product and brand analytics and insights

Enhanced digital interaction off product packaging provides a source of non-correlated data for analysis including geo-location, time, content interest and preference. New connected packaging platforms, like Real, make it easy to organize and control smart connected packaging codes, the content they deliver, and to analyze the data collected for business purposes.

A richer product experience

Rewarding customers with access to product or brand content not found elsewhere or by providing access to answer frequently asked questions at the point of sale can help customers make informed purchasing decisions and close the sale while building brand trust and enhancing ownership.

Access to information after packaging is discarded

Some smart and connected packaging solutions, like the Real platform, include consumer-focused mobile apps that offer access to important brand and product information even after the packaging is recycled. Here brands provide access to customer service, how-to videos, and manuals that otherwise would need to be found using search engines, which can lead customers astray from the brand’s message.

Delivering purpose and the promise of transparency

Communicating brand purpose and/or delivering transparency information off packaging can earn the attention, trust and loyalty required for brands to thrive.

Calls-to-action (CTAs)

Marketers can leverage smart connected packaging to offer related products, special offers, discounts and other CTAs as prioritized by business needs. CTAs from connected packaging can be a rich source to gain meaningful consumer insights that can influence future product development and marketing.

Reduced footprint

Smart packaging provides brands with the option to make some content digital only and reduce manufacturing cost and supply chain footprint. A connected package can provide the means to inform customers about how best to dispose, recycle and/or compost both the packaging and product itself.

Brand engagement

Creating content that engages and provides a path for participation to share an experience with the product or quick surveys or polls can provide valuable insights into customer preferences and behavior.


Smart packaging can authenticate the item while delivering meaningful and consumer-focused content to enhances ownership. Leveraging customer interaction to include authentication can identify diversion within the supply chain while building brand trust.

Smart packaging’s #1 value

The interaction from scanning a code or tag on a smart package offers brands the ability to learn from their customers while adding value for the consumer during ownership or at the point of sale. Brands win by delivering their message and by creating a valuable new data source that can influence future marketing and product development. Consumers win by having access to relevant information and the opportunity to engage with the brand without having to search for it.

In most cases, adding a QR code is the only design change needed on packaging to enable this interaction with customers. In fact, according to a recent survey by The Drum/YouGov, 94% of consumers have scanned codes in the past year and 75% expect to continue using them in the future. It’s important though to place the code where customers know the code is meant for them to scan — and not part of the supply chain. It’s also important to have a short message next to this code to let the consumer know what they’ll be accessing. It’s not enough to put “scan me” on a QR code.

The real value of smart and connected packaging is that these tailored and connected experiences with customers, the information that is both delivered and received, can change as your business needs and priorities change. With digital content, marketers can tune their message as their business evolves and new information becomes available. It is the flexibility to fine tune helpful, engaging content and relevant CTAs that adds the most value to smart packaging already at home or still on store shelves. With each update, brands can learn new consumer insights that can also influence future product development and marketing.

A code on smart packaging doesn’t change, but the content behind that code can at any time in the future—well after the product has shipped and even during ownership. And making smart packaging can be as easy as adding a QR code to the packaging.

Free guide to create great product experiences

A free guide on creating great smart packaging experiences

Download our free guide to making great product experiences with smart packaging. The purpose of this 6-page white paper is to develop ideas on how to deliver meaningful brand experiences by leveraging your packaging, digital content, and customer-focused CTAs. You’ll gain ideas that add value without adding costs.

About Authentic Labs

At Authentic, we focus on adding value to products by delivering actionable content to consumers at the point of purchase and throughout the life of the product. Reach out to us or start your free Real account so we can help make your packaging smart, reduce waste, enhance ownership, and create transformational data streams with packaging data.

Real was made to deliver the brand impact information consumers want in an environment that allows brands to maintain control of the content and narrative. Your brand. Your message.

Let Real be the bridge between your brand and your constomers in the name of true responsibility and accountability.

Flatiron mountain landscape in Boulder, Colorado

About Authentic Labs

Authentic Labs are the developers of Real®, a platform for marketers to organize, host, and deliver smart and active and product and transparency content from packaging. 

Join Real and promote your brand’s transparency and sustainability efforts for free, then add products and smart experiences as needed.