Feature article

Smart packaging connects brands with their consumers

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Managing Editor
An NFC tag embedded in a closure helps CPGs create relevant and personalized mobile marketing campaigns.

Talkin’ Things and Closure Systems International (CSI) have joined forces to take smart packaging to the next level. They have developed the Talkin’ Cap, a closure embedded with a near field communication (NFC) tag to create meaningful interaction between brands and their consumers with the simple tap of a smartphone. 

Talkin’ Things, a Warsaw, Poland-based company that makes smart packaging systems, and CSI, an Indianapolis, Indiana-based manufacturer of capping equipment and closures, teamed up to integrate Talkin’ Things’ NFC tags into CSI’s closures as a convenient way for brands to take advantage of NFC technology, a contactless form of communication that allows an NFC-enabled device like a smartphone to collect or interpret data from another item with an NFC tag. While many consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies already use NFC tags, it comes at a cost. Some companies slap it on their packaging as add-on stickers, which can interfere with or mar the design of the packaging label. Others integrate it in the body of the packaging, but that can add an extra level of complexity to the packaging process, thus slowing down production. By placing the NFC tags inside the closures, Talkin’ Cap can alleviate those challenges, according to Talkin’ Things and CSI.

“Companies have NFC tags on labels now, but we’ve never seen it in the cap before,” says David McCall, business development manager for diversified markets at CSI. “So we wanted to try to do it and see if we could get something new into the market.”

To create the Talkin’ Cap, Talkin’ Things encodes and encrypts microchips on the NFC tags to ensure each one is unique and secure. It then supplies the NFC tags to CSI, which seals the tags inside its polypropylene caps and delivers them to the CPG. Talkin’ Things provides the CPG with its NFC software, which includes a back end, mobile or web app, and a data management dashboard. 

Consumers simply tap their NFC-enabled smartphones on the tags to access the information on them. All Android phones and the iPhone 7 model and up are equipped to read NFC tags. 

Doubling down

What sets the Talkin’ Cap NFC technology apart from others is the two-stage communication system. The first stage features Talkin’ Things’ patented proof-of-purchase solution. The NFC tag is equipped with a loop. When someone opens the packaging, the loop breaks. Consumers will be able to see whether the product has been opened or not by tapping the NFC tags with their smartphones. It also protects the brand from counterfeiting, unauthorized refilling and other gray market activities, according to Talkin’ Things. 

When the loop breaks, the chip signals for the second stage of communication to kick in. If the consumer scans the NFC tag again, brands can connect with them via interactive mobile marketing activities, such as gamification, loyalty programs and multimedia content like augmented reality. Talkin’ Things software allows CPGs to monitor each scan, view real-time customer engagement, analyze marketing campaigns and gather actionable insights. Because each tag is unique, CPGs can use the software to easily customize marketing experiences for their consumers based on information such as where they purchased the products and usage history. 

“The data management dashboard makes marketing segmentation easy,” says Maciej Kiryllo, business development director for Talkin’ Things. “For instance, three people could buy the same product, but have different marketing messages from scanning the product. Talkin’ Cap lets marketers create unique stories and content. They no longer have to prescribe a generic message. They can create messages that are really, really personalized.”

The Talkin’ Cap debuted at PACK EXPO International in October. Talkin’ Things and CSI expect to bring the Talkin’ Cap to market in 2019, but they declined to mention any specific food or beverage brands that will use the packaging.

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