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Robert Bourque

Building brands with smart packaging


Singapore’s food and beverage market is currently estimated at US$108 million1, with major beverage companies expanding their product portfolios to cater to the growing popularity of fruit juices, ready-to-drink teas, energy drinks and beer. Increased local competition is also prompting these brands to explore novel ways to customise products.

With an estimated 4.27 million smartphones users in Singapore2, one emerging strategy involves tapping into technological breakthroughs in augmented reality (AR) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Singaporeans are amongst the world’s fastest adopters of mobile and social media in retail due to the ease and convenience of online shopping3.

Along with making purchases, smartphones connect consumers to product information and reviews. The ability to access pricing across a variety of brands or even promotional offerings are crucial to price-sensitive consumers, especially in Singapore, where value for money and price are key considerations in making purchasing decisions4.

This high level of technological engagement and greater demand for packaged goods is leading manufacturers to focus on creating differentiation through the delivery of unique digital interactions though smart packaging.

Bringing out the “smart” in beverage cans
Keeping up with the fast-paced lifestyles of mature markets, Singapore’s demand for on-the-go packaged goods – particularly beverages – is showing no sign of slowing down. Beverage cans, which are growing faster than many other formats due to their convenience and sustainability attributes, also present an ideal delivery vehicle for smart packaging initiatives.

The integration of technologies like AR and Quick Response (QR) codes turn beverage cans into multi-media portals, offering access to games, videos, sweepstakes, coupons and other activities that ensure consumer engagement long after a product is purchased. Combining the power of smartphones and beverage cans as conduits for AR experiences also allows brand owners to layer virtual product or experiential content on top of the real world in such a way that brands appear to be existing in the same space as the consumers.

These unique codes are strategically positioned on beverage cans so that they are easily accessible to consumers. As soon as the codes are scanned, brands are able to gather valuable, real-time purchasing and consumption data, including who opened what content and when and where the code was activated. With this information, brands will be well positioned to tailor subsequent campaigns to stay aligned with consumers’ behavior, desires and needs. 

Optimising supply chains with smart packaging
Including unique codes on packaging also embeds digital intelligence into each unit, making it trackable and interactive simultaneously. When beverage cans with these ‘digital triggers’ are registered into the cloud, they gain the ability to deliver applications, experiences and analytics at every stage of their lifecycle: from the time they are made, shipped and sold to the moment they are consumed and responsibly disposed.

By tapping into the ubiquity of IoT, traceability and authentication can be carried out with ease. Taking this step also helps protect brand reputation from problems arising from product diversion and counterfeiting and gives consumers added assurance on product safety since defective goods can be swiftly identified, isolated and withdrawn from supply chains.

Along with access to a new stream of consumer data, smart packaging will play an integral role in helping beverage brands with their push to create experiential content and drive greater consumer engagement in Singapore.


The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Robert Bourque

Robert Bourque

Robert Bourque, President of CROWN Asia Pacific is responsible for the operations of 32 plants with beverage, food can, aerosol and general line packaging production lines across China and Southeast Asia, supporting both global and local customers.

Prior to assuming his current position in 2016, Robert was Senior Vice President for Crown Beverage Packaging, China and Hong Kong.

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