Meaningful engagement is the stepping stone for Effective Communication. FMCG brands are doing whatever it takes to engage their potential customers at the already in undated point-of-sale (POS) before they drift out of their realm of influence. Since packaging serves as the last mile sales person at the retail shelf, the responsibility of make or break communication obviously vests on its shoulders. The game doesn’t end here. The communication has to be smart, intuitive, and intelligent enough to keep the customer genuinely engaged for progressing towards a successful transaction. Given all of this, it is only prudent to infuse Grey Matter into the packaging. A definitive step towards this is Near Field Communication (NFC). There certainly are other technologies too, but let’s restrict the purview of our discussion for the purpose of this blog to NFC.
Near Field Communication is an enabler for the Packaging industry to join the Internet of Things (IoT) bandwagon. Internet of Things, as the name suggests integrates physical /tangible objects to the World Wide Web (www) so that those things become more responsive in the network world thereby enhancing the human interfaceand the associated experience.
An NFC enabled smart label can actually serve as a ‘Man Friday’ for packaging right from giving out information about the value/supply chain/ logistical coordinates; instantaneous condition of the product packed in terms of freshness; shelf-life details;information about how the product was manufactured, the conditions in which it was manufactured; to additional details that can help consumers make good use of the product being purchased. For example a branded pack of cocoa-powder as a value added feature could elicit some interesting cake recipes for the benefit of the end-user on the handheld. With the advent of functionally superior and re-closable packaging, end users do not prefer decanting products into separate containers anymore. In such a scenario NFC can play a much longer and sustained role in engaging the consumer which in turn can boost brand loyalty.
NFC simply comes alive with a microchip embedded into packaging as smart labels. This chip can store all information related to the product which otherwise would not really be feasible to print on the torso of the pack. All that the shopper needs to do is to hold up the smart phone to the pack and get instant access to information related to different aspects of the product at a mere tap of the phone. This does not require typing out endlessly long URLs or downloading mobile based apps to be in turn able to scan QR or bar codes on the pack. Such is the merit of a single tap approach for unfurling the hidden dimension of a product at the Point of Sale and presenting it in the most engaging format to delight the shoppers besides helping them make an informed buying decision.
Most of the smartphones have inbuilt features to support Near Field Communication. According to industry estimates 1.2 billion NFC enabled smartphones will be globally shipped by 2018. All this indicates that there is a lot of ground for packaging to cover in order to get smarter for enthusing, engaging and enriching the consumers. The global packaging industry has evolved and come a long way to graduate to this level of intelligence which is only going to get sharper with time.