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NFC-Enabled Packaging Can Drive Brand Engagement and Help the Environment

by Nahla Davies on 02/10/2022 | 4 Minute Read

The increasing digitalization of society has enabled brands to use the internet to build brand loyalty. Companies frequently share news about their products, provide information, and place advertisements through carefully crafted content connecting them to their consumers. With many brands already using scannable barcodes for additional product features such as manuals and how-to videos, packaging is becoming more digital-centric.

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is now raising the stakes for modern product wrapping by allowing consumers to simply tap the product with their phone to access brand-crafted, exclusive content such as videos, games, playlists, and more.

More importantly, NFC-enabled packaging is generally designed to be reusable, minimizing the environmental impact of packaging and empowering consumers and companies alike to be more sustainable.

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Bridging the Digital and Physical Worlds

NFC technology provides an elegant gateway from the physical packaging to the brand’s overarching digital realm. More than ever, brands need to exist in the digital and physical space. They must not only have a solid online identity and presence but provide meaningful and engaging content to their audiences as well.

Companies can build brand loyalty by providing the context and connections online, but the content must make sense for the brand, its mission, and its customer base. NFC-enabled packaging is another way brands can create a unique experience through packaging for their customers.

Remy Martin recently utilized NFC technology to create an experience for their customers, which allowed them to gain access to special content about their bottles when activated. High-end alcohol companies such as Remy Martin also use NFC technology to authenticate their product against counterfeit products. This technique is expected to gain traction in other industries such as the fashion and art industries. 

eBay, for one, is now offering NFC sneaker authentication through its partnership with Sneaker Con, which involves inserting an NFC tag into sneakers as a mark of authenticity. By encouraging sneaker collectors to buy used (or, in terminology sellers prefer, “pre-loved”) fashion items, consumers can cut back on the environmental waste that is incurred through “fast fashion” or by going to the store and buying a new pair of the same item. 

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Hair product company Redken recently unveiled their NFC-powered “Personalized Prescription,” which provides customers with information about their product online. Would-be buyers can tap their phone against the bottle to receive additional information about the product, what type of hair it works best with, and any concerns a consumer might have before buying to ensure that the customer gets the right fit. That not only increases consumer confidence before buying a Redken product but helps maximize customer satisfaction, ensuring the right product gets recommended for someone's specific needs.

As people spend more time online, brands must shift their tactics to gain recognition. Carving out a meaningful place on the internet and offering valuable services and payment options online to customers can help convert new buyers into brand evangelists. It can also help increase interaction with customers, which can result in invaluable insights and ideas.

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NFC-Enabled Packaging Creates Sustainable Options

NFC-enabled packaging is slightly more complex to produce than just creating a scannable barcode. 

However, this technology has many benefits, other than eliminating those unsightly barcodes we see everywhere. Packaging that uses an NFC chip is frequently designed to be reusable. That can help your company drastically reduce its carbon footprint and become a critical contributor to environmentally sustainable practices.

Consumers, especially young ones, want to know that the companies they buy from engage in ethical, sustainable, and socially conscious practices. With NFC, brands can stop printing lengthy manuals and warranty forms and instead allow their customers to access this information online. Packaging can then become less wasteful and aesthetically pleasing.

Furthermore, providing customers with a sleekly-designed container that is reusable is an excellent way to enhance customer engagement, both in the real and in the digital world. For example, famed perfumier Paco Rabanne utilized NFC technology to debut their new men's fragrance, Phantom.

The cologne, housed in a sleek yet cheeky robot design, allowed customers to retain their original bottle and refill it as needed. Promising to serve as the customer’s “wingman,” the NFC technology embedded in the robot-shaped cologne introduced the owner to an online Phantom world of content, games, and other interactive features. While the online content's purpose is to engage the consumer, the refillable bottle served as a physical reminder of the brand. Plus, the ability to order refills through the NFC-enabled bottle reinforces the cyclical connection between the physical and digital world and how this reinforces brand salience and brand loyalty. 

NFC-enabled packaging is perfect for brands—especially high-end ones—that want to create a deeper relationship with their customers while encouraging brand loyalty. It can create an experience for consumers centered around the packaging and how it connects them to a broader virtual brand-centric world. But even better, the technology itself can reduce wastefulness and help consumers make more sustainable choices.