Smart packaging - how printable tech creates consumer brand buzz

Barry McCann, Product and Marketing Director, CTI Product and Marketing Director Barry McCann Barry McCann, Product and Marketing Director
When Coors Light decided to make the mountains turn blue on icy cold cans, they probably didn’t know if would result in more than $450 million more in topline revenue – and become a permanent part of the brand.

CTI, the world's largest color-changing ink supplier, develops technologies including thermochromic, photochromic, glow-in-dark, and security inks, complemented by a line of printable sensors for drugs that detect freezing, thawing, heat abuse, cold-chain compliance and authenticity.

We sell these inks to the world's biggest printers, including Ball, Crown, Amcor, American FujiSeal, American Poly and many other converters in more than 50 countries. Those inks include Metal Decorating Offset; Lithographic; Flexographic; Gravure; Screen and even Pad Printing formats – in solvent-based, UV and air curable formulas.

While we command expertise across the printing and converting side of the business, where we really shine in our relentless pursuit of industry-changing innovation. For instance, we invented color-changing indicators to show a food item had successfully been through the High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) process. We also created and patented our own yellow dyes to make the first yellow thermochromic ink aluminum cans – and triggered a whole color pallet explosion in the process.
Recently, we’ve launched an entire new product line called BlindSpotz, focused on bringing attention to the supply chain and keeping foods frozen, cold and safe. Need a printable color-changing sensor to show that tomatoes are too cold (below 50F/10C) to ripen? CTI invented that. How about an indicator to show that steaks remained frozen until delivered? CTI has that. A label that changes from dark gray to orange if a food item got too hot during the summer months? Tamper-evidence using subzero temperatures or a heat gun? Invisible to fluorescing text or designs for authentication or just to keep mechanical cutlines from cluttering the label design? A simple color-change from green to yellow when milk has gone above 40F/4C and started to lose shelf-life? You get the point.

It begs the question: Does anyone care about all this neat stuff? The answer: Yes, consumers care a lot about it. CTI has conducted purchase intent research where we share ideas like the ones aboveand many more. Here’s a small peek at some results:

• Glow-in-the-Dark on a large salty snack chip bag: Among respondents aged 18-34, 69% said that they were likely to buy a lot more or somewhat more if the feature were on the bag.

• That same age group (different survey) – 59% -- said they would be extremely or very interested in a hot-activated reveal graphic on coffee cups that surprises them with inspirational messages or quotes.

• Overall, 46% of delivery pizza buyers surveyed said that they would buy a lot or somewhat more pizza that had a hot guarantee printed indicator on the box, showing that the pizza was deliciously hot when delivered.

Smart Packaging differs from Active Intelligent Packaging in that the latter uses electronic technology to gather, store and even transmit data – often at a significant cost per piece. That means it’s often used only at the box- or pallet-level. In contrast, Smart packaging technology like printable chemistry-based technology can be applied at such a low cost – fractions of pennies –to each package. Even better, CTI Smart Packaging prints just like any other ink, so a new photochromic feature can be printed inline on the same package material by simply adding a print station.

Finally, when it comes to food and beverages, safety becomes paramount, and CTI works with every large CPG brand and its associated converters closely to meet all compliance requirements. Often, in addition to providing documentation on our materials, we will also facilitate third-party migration testing to prove there’s nothing harmful when using our unique technology in combination with converter substrates and manufacturing techniques.

From beverages in cans and bottles to foods in flexible packages to QSR cups, CTI has Smart Packaging technology to create amazing customer experiences, drive social media interaction and differentiate brands for revenue lift.
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