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Connectivity: A Luxury or Necessity in Packaging?

Posted By: SGK September 16, 2016

Some might argue that a Connected Package is a luxury. However, while many innovations start out as luxuries, the successful ones eventually become necessities.

Recently, we sat down with Bruce Miller, Vice President of Product Development at SGK, to discuss how brand owners and retailers are responding to the consumer’s need for increased product connectivity.

READ: The Connected Package: The Next Generation in Brand Efficiency, Interaction and Appeal  

In the twentieth century, we saw this with manufactured objects: the automobile, radio, TV, mobile phones — they all started out as luxuries, but quickly became necessities for modern life. We’re now living in an era where quick access to detailed information has already transformed from a luxury to a necessity, and the mobile handset is the primary portal to that information.

That same mobile device now provides additional connectivity to the objects in our lives. Connectivity to our automobiles through our mobile devices has become a necessity for most people, and we’re seeing the same expectations for other objects, such as thermostats, appliances, and health sensors.

The concept of the Internet of Things is that our physical devices are connected and networked, providing us with more functionality than what we would expect from non-networked objects.

“I think it’s perfectly reasonable that our product packaging have that same functionality,” says Miller.

A connected package has additional functionality beyond what we normally expect from a consumer package. It’s responsive to a user, allowing them to use the package to trigger a connection that provides additional information about the product, such as nutrimental information, ingredient information, allergens, and other product data that would be relevant to a consumer.

“Since the beginning, the primary purpose of packaging has always been to create brand appeal. But a secondary purpose has become just important: Conveying information,” says Miller.

While the Connected Package functionality is similar to a traditional QR code, there are a few important differences to point out. First, it doesn’t require dedicated space on the pack. The one-square-inch space required by a QR code is precious commodity that can be used for other purposes that have value for the brand owner and consumers. Second, the Digimarc code can be embedded on all sides of the pack, eliminating the need for a user to find the code. And third, the Digimarc Barcode can be used for retail checkout scanning.

Watch Larry Logan, CMO of Digimarc explain in this BrandSquare webinar: Winning Customer Loyalty with Digitally Empowered Packaging 

The retailer needs an image-based point-of-sale scanner running Digimarc software. Imaging POS scanners are the next generation of POS scanners. There’s a strong argument for imaging scanners over traditional laser-based scanners, as they are cheaper to purchase and maintain and provide additional functionality. Digimarc’s capability is just one of the functional advantages of imager POS scanners — they can also be used to capture images at checkout, such as paper checks, drivers licenses, etc.

On the consumer side, shoppers just need a mobile device with a Digimarc-enabled app. The Digimarc app can scan traditional barcodes and QR codes in addition to Digimarc codes, so it provides the consumer with a good all-in-one scanning app. Other app developers can embed the Digimarc technology in their apps as well, and we’re starting to see that now. For instance, the Walmart app can scan Digimarc codes.

“We see our brand owner clients working to develop their pack-based marketing strategy for mobile, and retailers are running the ROI numbers on the savings at the checkout stand,” says Miller.

This year at the GS1 Connect 2016 conference, GS1 US, a well-respected industry organization, endorsed the activity around Digimarc technology. The DWCode is essentially just a Digimarc code, but it can be ordered and maintained through the same GS1 infrastructure that a brand owner uses to manage their traditional barcodes. This lowers the cost of ownership for the brand owner by making the process more streamlined and simpler. The GS1 US Mobile Scan will bring awareness of the technology to consumers at an industry level, which should drive consumer interest.

About Bruce Miller: As Vice President of Product Development for SGK, Bruce Miller leads the practical application of new technologies to the brand deployment requirements of SGK’s clients. His deep expertise in graphic production and management has helped advance the application and performance of graphic workflows for many of the world’s most prominent brand owners. A champion of innovation at SGK for more than 25 years, Bruce has played a pivotal role in the company’s transition from conventional analog to today’s advanced digital technologies and processes.