Interactive packaging is becoming more ubiquitous as the technologies used to create it become more readily available. Many brands have started incorporating interactive features on their packaging to encourage consumers to connect with their company in a unique way. From AR-enabled jars of alfredo sauce to free minigames unlocked by NFC, there are plenty of examples to explore. We’re going to highlight some of the technology driving the interactive packaging market, so you can know what the future holds for packaging design.

Quick Response (QR) Codes

QR codes are not new technology, as they’ve been around for quite some time. Right now, these are probably the most popular technology used when it comes to interactive packaging because of how well-known they are. Many consumers are aware of QR codes and know how to use them effectively, which is why a lot of brands are using QR codes on their packaging to create unique experiences. For example, a customer could purchase a box of cereal for their child that offers a QR code to unlock a free minigame on his or her phone. The minigame helps provide entertainment for the customer and could offer coupons to encourage future sales.

QR codes can be printed on your packaging design during manufacturing. Once a customer purchases your product with the included QR code, they use a simple scanner app on their phone to unlock what’s digitally attached to that QR code. It’s a simple addition that can be used for all sorts of extra perks, including coupons, digital content, and contests. This technology offers a great way to connect with customers on a deeper level and give them more than just an amazing product.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

NFC stands for near field communication, which is the creation of a short-range wireless connection between devices. Many companies have been adding NFC labels to their products to allow customers to simply tap their phone near a specific point to download digital content, such as coupons or minigames. Through NFC, you can provide easy access to digital content right on your packaging, so when a customer purchases your product, they have something more to explore about your brand.

Absolute Co., who owns the popular Malibu Rum brand, used NFC to help customers take advantage of their summer promotion. NFC technology could also be used to provide free digital content such as blog posts, coupons, special contests, or games.

AR or Augmented Reality

AR technology has been growing in popularity and it’s starting to make its way into packaging designs for all kinds of products. Through innovative apps on your phone, you can unlock augmented reality that helps you understand and connect with different brands. The difference between augmented reality and virtual reality is that AR simply adds digital layers to an already existing environment you’re in, while VR tends to create a new environment. This means you will see digital communication through AR over a view of your surroundings.

One of the most recognizable AR experiences would be the Pokémon Go app, which lets you hunt down Pokémon characters near your location on your phone. Many companies are integrating AR experiences with their packaging to give customers more than just their product, but also stories or games related to the product. You can see how there are endless ways to incorporate AR technology for you brand if you’re willing to brainstorm creative ideas.

These three interactive packaging technologies open up a world of possibilities when it comes to marketing and branding your products to stand out. QR codes, NFC interactions, and AR experiences are all exciting features that can cause a customer to connect with your brand beyond purchasing your products, and they can be easily incorporated into your packaging design. These technologies, and others, are certainly going to become more widespread in the coming future of the packaging industry.