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Packaging Innovation Map: What You Need To Know About Emerging Technologies & Startups

As companies in the packaging industry are looking for innovative ways to reach customers online, emerging technologies offer the new and profitable opportunities. We share actionable insights into these technologies and the startups driving them in our Packaging Innovation Map.

More and more vendors are looking for innovative ways to stand out and extend their customer reach online. Customer-facing and smart packaging elements are only two of the most promising innovation areas we identified for the packaging industry.

To learn more about how emerging startups and technologies will disrupt the packaging industry, we have analyzed more than 700 startups and created the Packaging Innovation Map, providing you with actionable intelligence on startup driven innovation. This research is backed by our proprietary AI- and data-driven innovation scouting approach.

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Packaging Innovation Map (c) StartUs Insights



Interactive Packaging

Long gone are the days where visual elements are the only key factor influencing customers’ purchase behavior. Instead, innovative companies put more focus on touch, which is intensively linked to people’s willingness to buy a product – even if it comes at a higher price. Attractive interactive packaging solutions focus on providing consumers with an added value by integrating interactive elements in addition to a product itself. QR Codes and packages that change their appearance in response to various stimuli or pressure are only two applications of interactive packaging.

Flexible Packaging

Resealable stand-up pouches are already omnipresent, so packaging companies aim for the next generation of convenient packaging. To satisfy consumers’ need for practical transportation (think on-the-go) and to optimize logistics processes, smaller, lighter, and more easily disposable packaging solutions are being developed.

Smart Packaging

We identified two types of smart packaging: First, packaging that interacts with a product and second, packaging that adds information or functions – often in the form of sensors or communication features. This can be achieved through RFID, NFC and chemical sensors which track information of a product (shelf life, expiration, temperature etc.). Moreover, printed electronics provide consumers with nutritional facts, coupons, or games among others while e-inks take care of a user-friendly display of information. To round up this process, cloud-based platforms connect smart packaging.

Sustainable Materials

As people become increasingly conscious of the environment, they look for eco-friendly and sustainable products and packaging. Packaging companies aiming to innovate in this area can profit from this movement as the competition of values has displaced price competition. Zero-waste packaging along with reusable packaging and bio-based materials soon will become even more relevant.



Custom Packaging

Custom packaging is designed to expand consumers’ engagement with the product and the company behind it. Companies already turn to big data to target specific markets such as the geographical area or interests, slowly entering the area of mass customization. As customized packaging gives consumers the impression of making their mark on a product, personalization has the potential to create a new source of revenue as consumers are willing to pay a higher price.

Social Branding

Consumers increasingly reflect the values of a brand onto its branding efforts, including packaging. Companies that work in a “responsible” manner in terms of local sourcing of products are becoming more popular and customers are willing to pay a premium price for it. To profit from this innovation area, companies communicate their engagement in social causes via QR Codes on products or give consumers immediate access to a community that is purchasing the same products as they are.

Disruptive Startups In The Packaging Industry Include:

  • UK startup Blippar equips companies to use products, packaging and merchandising to activate interactive personalized digital content through augmented reality and image-recognition technology.
  • Munich’s can2close redesigns the closure system of cans. The startup uses a mechanism that allows for repeated sealing while also offering the largest available opening.
  • Finnish MAGICADD specializes in cost-efficient, high-volume smart packaging, giving each individual product a dynamic and machine-readable identity that is managed with a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.
  • Finland-based PAPTIC® develops an original material replacing paper and plastic. The material is twice as durable as paper and weighs 30% less while being 80% biodegradable.
  • Pakible creates custom branded packaging including type and size of packaging, text, logo, and color – making it simple for any business to prototype and then ship product packaging.
  • Finnish RePack develops delivery packages that can conveniently and easily be returned and then reused; enhancing customer experience and reducing waste.
  • Netherland-based FreshStrips provides user-friendly, low-cost smart labels that are attached to a product’s packaging and indicates whether its content has been exposed to unsafe temperatures.

The packaging industry along with emerging startups offer extensive opportunities such as mobile-engaged, textured and intelligent packaging, holistic packaging, as well as fiber printing and micro-patterned packaging materials.

All of these serve both the consumers in their on-the-go lifestyle and manufacturers in extending their products’ shelf life. As the average consumer demand is growing, technology advances and resources become scarce, packaging companies need to rethink their products to stay ahead.

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