Brand Enhancement by Electronics in Packaging

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—IDTechEx has published “Brand Enhancement by Electronics in Packaging 2010-2020 The impending surge in e-packaging.” It concerns the market for electronic smart packaging devices, known as “e-packaging.” According to the report, global demand for these devices will grow rapidly from $0.09 billion in 2010 to $7.7 billion in 2020. Most of this will involve consumer packaged goods (CPG) and their brand enhancement.

The projection only represents a few percent of CPG packages and healthcare packages being fitted with these devices in 2020. At that time, only around 1 percent of the global expenditure on packaging will involve e-packaging devices but growth in applications and usage will rocket thereafter.

Electronic packaging addresses the need for brands to reconnect with the customer and protect against copying. It can change texture, vibrate to signal something, or talk. It also addresses more specialized needs, like using scrolling text and/or audio on packaging with lengthy instructions and warranty records, sometimes with a life span of twenty years when primary packaging is involved. To date, most e-packaging for brand enhancement has taken the form of primary packaging that makes the product more useful and attractive in the eyes of the consumer.

The key enabling technology, printed electronics, is about to reduce costs of electronics suitable for packaging by 99 percent. Many brand owners have put multidisciplinary teams onto the adoption of the new paper-thin electronics on their high volume packaging.

Premium pricing will arise from packaging that leverages the function of the product and is reusable as an electronic product itself. Electronic tearoffs as rewards will become possible, as will packaging that interacts with mobile phones and computers. Invisible electronics, edible electronics, and stretchable electronics are anticipated technical advances.

Energy harvesting electronics, including printed photovoltaics (solar cells), will need no battery or only a fleck of battery, yet be affordable on mass-produced disposable products. Printed plastic photovoltaics uses one thousandth of the material of today’s silicon solar cells. It is safely chewable by children, contains no glass, can be translucent and attractive on packaging, and recycled with regular trash.

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