The Future of Packaging: Product Safety and Customer Engagement

29 Sep 2021

Cosmetic and pharmaceutical packaging can serve numerous purposes, at Essentra Packaging we know well how versatile and personalised our services need to be: catching the customers’ eye from the shelves, tracking the product throughout the supply chain, or ensuring the patient knows how to use a product.

The possibilities seem endless now, and in the future, by integrating smart packaging tools, we might be able to engage more with customers –adding value to their experience with the brand–, while ensuring the safety of each product until the moment the end user receives it.  

Ensure package safety with smart technology 

At Essentra Packaging we want to create unique solutions to tackle our clients’ specific requirements, exploring new and groundbreaking ways to solve any issue that may arise. 

Our previous article about the future of packaging was focused on the improvement of the supply chain, monitoring and communication, and in this second part, we would like to dive into a matter that requires constant attention and development: packaging safety. So far, every time new measures to prevent tampering are developed, criminals look for ways to copy the product, with varying degrees of success. This is why up to 10% of medical treatments are counterfeit worldwide, according to a study by American Health and Drug Benefits, so, in order to reduce this percentage, we need to keep working using the latest solutions at our disposal.

The fight against counterfeit products

Are you concerned about tampering and counterfeiting? Arguably, these issues are among the greatest threats faced by the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. For this very reason, the European Commission implemented the Falsified Medicines Directive in 2019, a measure that demands unique codes for each prescription drug in order to keep patients and customers safe from potentially harmful products.

There are many existing measures to indicate if a product has been tampered with or damaged, but in a few years’ time, we may be combining traditional tools with smart packaging to create completely different solutions in order to keep packaging safe in the entire supply chain. Today, Essentra Packaging can offer services such as holograms, colour-changing inks or pearlescent effects, and we are continuously developing new tools alongside our clients. But, can you imagine what solutions the future might bring?

An example of future packaging safety solutions could be the adoption of TE labels with included NFC technology, adding a strategically-placed ‘tamper leg’ over the carton’s opening. The NFC would provide information about the product and ensure product authenticity, while the ‘tamper leg’ would indicate any damage or undue interaction with the packaging. Depending on the nature of your business, solutions could be mixed and matched to meet any safety requirements.

At Essentra Packaging we believe in making products as difficult to copy as possible, and with smart technologies and personalised solutions, we might be able to design unique safety strategies for every single unit.

Increase customer engagement 

The online world seems to be taking over when it comes to product sales, however, in the cosmetics sector, the physical shop is still an essential part of the process, since clients like to smell, touch and test the products before purchasing them. On the other hand, younger generations increasingly prefer to research and read about products online, before purchasing, ensuring the brand’s corporate values are aligned with their own preferences, or to find better deals. There are two contrasting trends related to this behaviour, showrooming and ROPO (research online, purchase offline). In the first, consumers go to a physical shop to research the product, and then buy online; in the latter, buyers research the product online before purchasing in person.

A way to make the most of this opportunity could be increasing customer engagement, by interacting more closely with their audience through online activity: social media, QR codes, questionnaires, product information, etc. Smart packaging solutions will link the customers to the brand through the Internet, not only improving the experience for the consumers, but also collecting information such as consumer behaviour, market insights, analytics, product feedback, supply chain data, track and trace, product integrity and safety, among others.

Patient engagement to make treatments easier

In order to achieve effective customer engagement, it is key to ensure patients have all the instructions and information they might need, specifically in the case of pharmaceutical products. Due to the measures adopted by governments and organisations in the fight against tampering –such as the FMD mentioned earlier–, there is less and less space available for printed information on labels and leaflets.  A possible solution to this could be including additional codes to give users access to content online.

It is clear to us that smart technology and packaging will blend seamlessly in coming years, both in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic sectors. Personalised solutions will no longer be the exception, but the rule; at Essentra Packaging we can’t wait to work with your business, and help develop new tools to ensure your product is both safe and engaging. Get in touch with us!