From food to pharma various packaging technologies are being used to deploy innovative solutions for brands looking to better protect and promote their product in a world of digital consumers, complex global supply chains, intense competition and variable regulation.
Marketing departments are examining how A&IP can serve as a vehicle for launching personalized and highly-targeted marketing campaigns and allowing for greater transparency in a product´s life cycle, while operations departments are evaluating the potential for using track-and-trace technologies to drive improvements in their supply chains.
Also, legal departments are considering how the same mechanism can be deployed to demonstrate regulatory compliance and enable product authentication in real-time.
Against this backdrop the challenge facing brands is to take stock of the full range of opportunities presented by A&IP by embracing its multi-functional nature and seeking out those solutions that minimize complexity while maximizing the return on investment.
DairyReporter spoke with John Beerens, head of sales at serialization innovators Kezzler, about the key opportunities not to be missed.
Opportunity One: Traceability and transparency
Being able to track individual products through the supply chain is a powerful risk mitigation tool for both brands and their consumers, Beerens said.
By assigning each and every product a unique digital identity it is possible to have accurate item-level specific information instantly accessible, positioning brands to prevent and respond to challenges, he noted.
“With the number of recalls on the rise and estimates putting the direct cost of a single recall event at around $10m, before factoring in damaged reputation and associated costs such as lost future revenue, this is no minor consideration.”
Traceability has increasing value as a selling point for consumers also, enabling firms to provide consumers with more detailed and product-specific information.
Recent research conducted by global consultancies such as Deloitte suggests that consumer behaviour is increasingly driven by a wider range of considerations beyond traditional factors such as taste, price and convenience, for example, to encompass considerations such as health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience and transparency, Beerens said.
“A&IP can enable firms to not only collect the relevant data regarding the product, but by digitising packaging and thereby making it interactive it can also provide a vehicle through which brands can share this information with stakeholders through the simple scan of a smartphone.”
In recognition of the growing demand for transparency, the SmartLabel initiative, which uses a QR code to create a virtual window into SKU-level product information, has already seen uptake by big brands in the US such as the likes of Hershey’s, Coca-Cola and Unilever.
Beerens said a recent partnership between SmartLabel provider Scanbuy and Kezzler will build on the functionality of the offering further, enabling brands to assign unique identities to each and every product through a code embedded within the existing QR code.
Opportunity Two: Food safety
The ability of brands to track and trace items in real time also presents an opportunity to advance food safety, Beerens said.
By monitoring the progress of products through the supply chain, a brand can identify potential issues in advance. For example, if a shipment has gone astray, or been subject to delays that mean it may have been over-exposed to conditions that would compromise the safety of the product, this can be flagged via the unique digital identity and the shipment held before onward distribution.
When an issue is identified with one product, all those from the same batch can be quickly identified and pinpointed to their most recent location in the supply chain, facilitating rapid recalls.
By scanning product labels with their phone, consumers can check whether a product has been recalled, promoting safety while minimizing waste.
Opportunity Three: Product authentication
Fake products pose serious risks to both brands and consumers, Beerens noted.
While some are obvious fakes, sophisticated counterfeiting operations often leave consumers struggling to tell the difference between the real thing and an imitation, undermining consumer confidence and putting health and safety at risk. When A&IP is deployed to make products unique and interactive, however, it enables regulators, retailers and consumers alike to authenticate products on the spot.
“Here the food industry is able to take stock of recent successes in more tightly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, where regulation has driven adoption of authentication technologies,” Beerens said.
“Having proven highly effective in deploying serialisation solutions for the likes of Pfizer Asia, Kezzler is one of the firms now spearheading a push to deliver food, and CPG firms more broadly, the same protection.”
Opportunity Four: Data-driven marketing
The information marketing departments can yield through A&IP is powerful, after all it is 100% specific to the brand and its stakeholders, Beerens pointed out.
The insights derived can then be used to inform the development and rollout of highly targeted dynamic campaigns that take place in real-time.
Beerens pointed to Cadbury’s Valentine’s Day promotion in the UK that used Amcor’s MaXQ smart packaging utilizing Kezzler’s serialization technology to enable purchasers of promotional Dairy Milk brand chocolate boxes to scan the product and record a personalized video message for the recipient.
Such campaigns, Beerens said, can help create a buzz around a product that gets people talking and drives consumer engagement with the brand.
In other cases, brands may choose to offer consumers incentives to repurchase items, or simply use it as a channel for dialogue and building confidence, loyalty and trust.