All That Glitters is Retail Gold

Holographic tapes aren’t just eye catching. They can protect a brand’s image, enhance packaging security and deter counterfeiters. Image courtesy of Filtrona Tapes.

How Holography Could Shake Up Packaging

By Sarah Rutland, Market Development Manager for Filtrona Tapes

When a consumer stands in front of a shelf filled with products, they are bombarded with visual messaging from dozens of brands. And that’s just in the store – it’s estimated that consumers see around 10,000 marketing messages every day. The eternal question for any brand is: how do you make yours stand out?

Achieving success in a crowded market means product packaging has to both catch the eye and project a sense of quality that the consumer can trust – all within around 20 seconds, by which time the shopper will have already made their mind up.

A lot happens in those 20 seconds – and brands need to use every tool at their disposal to make sure they make the most of that 20-second window. Some tools are more useful than others in this process, and few are more useful than holographic effects.

Harnessing the human instinct

The reason for this can be boiled down to a single sentence. As basic as it sounds, people tend to like shiny things.

There are plenty of studies and complex theories to support this statement – a popular one being that, thousands of years ago, our ancestors evolved to track down distant glimmering objects as a means of finding water sources.

Over time, as humanity largely left the hunter-gatherer lifestyle behind in favor of currency and commerce, the most valuable items were the gleaming minerals that we dug out of the ground. Gold and glittering jewels were forged into crowns that adorned the heads of our most powerful kings and queens, forever linking them with wealth and status – and, by extension, desirability.

This ancient primal instinct can be harnessed in the hectic modern retail channels of the 21st century, because nothing catches the eye on a crowded shelf quite like a holographic print. The shifting, prismatic patterns on holographic material are unmistakable even when viewed from a distance, creating an ever-changing rainbow of colors.

Holographic materials, like printed Prism horizontal tape, have acted as seals of authenticity for decades, presenting an extra layer of manufacturing complexity that many criminals cannot match. Image courtesy of Filtrona Tapes.

Instant premiumization

When incorporated into packaging, holographic elements can instantly give products a premium feel. At a time when the cost of living is causing more shoppers than ever to prioritize value for money in their purchases, that extra touch of quality could be the thing that persuades a consumer to choose one brand over another.

There is something to be said for the soft interactivity presented by a hologram. It provides a slightly different visual effect depending on the angle it is viewed from, creating opportunities for playful aesthetic design. Providing consumers with an experience that subtly changes with their perspective can be a way to build that rapid-fire engagement that is needed to sway purchasing decisions inside that 20-second window.

With holography, all that glitters can be more than gold. It represents depth, and a level of attention to detail that money can’t buy. It can even complement special pack design to mark a product out as a limited edition, instantly elevating it above competing products and sparking feelings of FOMO in consumers.

Part of this stems from the fact that holography is relatively well understood by consumers, which means consumers intuitively recognize any packaging that features it as genuine. Holographic elements act as an overt shorthand for a certificate of authenticity. This is particularly useful in sensitive applications like healthcare, in which counterfeit products can have severe consequences for end users, but it can also be used in luxury packaging for brand protection purposes.

This combination of aesthetic and functional benefits means that adding holographic effects is a relatively cost-effective way for converters to add value to their packaging portfolio. And, with a little creativity, holographic elements can be incorporated into packaging in even more innovative ways that appeal to today’s consumers.

Including an easy opening mechanism and an eye-catching holographic design highlights the opening mechanism, and can be printed with instructions. The all-in-one solution also creates cost and production efficiencies. Image courtesy of Filtrona Tapes.

Combining form with function

It is possible to combine the easy-open functionality of tear tape with the visual impact of holography. This combination means converters can include an easy opening mechanism and an eye-catching holographic design in one solution, which creates cost and production efficiencies. It also enables designers to highlight the opening mechanism and – if printed with text and images – guides consumers on how to use it.

This unlocks exciting possibilities for packaging manufacturers to instill their solutions with the ‘wow’ factor when consumers come to open the pack, creating a guided opening experience that can be strategically planned by the packaging designers. While the aesthetic benefits of holographic tape can motivate a consumer to purchase, its functional benefits are what will keep them coming back. This elevates packaging to something greater than the sum of its parts, making it a memorable, satisfying experience – infinitely preferable to leaving consumers to hack open a pack with a pair of scissors.

Alternatively, the tape can be used as a purely decorative solution, with a choice of four holographic formats offering the potential for innovative uses of the holographic effects. Whether the application requires unprinted holographic film, selectively metallized effects, or vivid visual designs, the only limit is the imagination of the designer.

Consumers can intuitively recognize when this level of attention to detail has been lavished on a pack, strongly influencing their purchasing decision. And, as a functional opening mechanism, it can also be used to continue to build a positive relationship with the consumer after purchase, too – dramatically increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases.

Fighting fakes

However, holographic materials bring much more to the table than simple aesthetic benefits, as important as they are. There’s plenty of substance behind the style, too. That’s because holographic materials offer many security benefits that can be used to protect a brand’s image and deter counterfeiters.

This is hugely important in today’s market, as some estimates indicate as many as 10% of all branded goods may be counterfeit. The global trade in fakes is now worth $600bn every year, dwarfing many legitimate industries and around 80% of consumers are estimated to have come into contact with fake goods, whether knowingly or not.

For brands, this presents a problem. Counterfeiters have traditionally targeted luxury or masstige brands, allowing consumers to purchase what could pass as a high-end product for a fraction of the price. While it would be naïve to assume that all of these consumers do so unwittingly – as an example, a study by brand protection agency Incopro revealed that 19% of UK consumers willingly purchase fake goods – the majority of consumers are unwilling participants in the counterfeit trade. In other words, they are victims.

This can damage a brand’s reputation significantly. It breeds a natural distrust among consumers, and may make them think twice about purchasing from a company that they know is a target for counterfeiters. This issue is most severe among Gen Z consumers – now on the brink of becoming the world’s leading spending power – as 48% of Gen Z shoppers say they have lost trust in a brand after buying a counterfeit, while 27% demand that brands take more effective action on the issue.

Holographic materials can play an important role in the fight against fakes. They have acted as seals of authenticity for decades, as they present an extra layer of manufacturing complexity that many criminals cannot match. As technology on both sides of this fight has advanced over the years, manufacturers have developed more complex holograms to stay on step ahead of the forgeries.

Elevating holograms with techniques like microtext printing, serialization, and void release substrates – where a peelable holographic material leaves behind traces of foil on the pack after removal – can all prove a product’s authenticity. And combining these features with a tear tape adds layers to your defense without compromising the goal of your packaging design.

Adding more locks to your safe

As counterfeiters become more sophisticated in their methods, brands should proactively seek to layer authentication features on their packaging. Each authentication feature is like a lock on a safe. A single lock is somewhat effective but can be overcome as counterfeiters can focus all their attention on cracking it. When multiple locks are used, producing a convincing fake becomes exponentially more complex. It may still be possible that a forger could crack every lock at once, but each one takes a significant amount of time and money to unlock. As counterfeiters, like most criminals, are opportunistic, it is more likely that they will simply move on to an easier target.

The tape itself represents one layer of security, as it acts as tamper evidence. The holographic element acts as a second layer of overt security. This can be complemented with further layers of overt and covert security, such as embedding microtext or nano images, image switches, and more. One covert layer of security print that can be added is a taggant, which usually consist of materials that light up when hit with infrared light.

Using holography is a design technique rooted in thousands of years of human history – and it’s one that is still driving new innovations to this day.

About the Author

Sarah Rutland is the Market Development Manager for Filtrona Tapes. Sarah has a background in chemistry, and specializes in gravure security ink formulations and creating bespoke security features. She joined Essentra Packaging in 2013, taking on roles as a Senior Development Engineer and later as a Global Product Manager covering a variety of packaging and authentication product ranges. In these positions, she gained further expertise in new product implementation. Filtrona Tapes, the new name for Essentra Tapes, is a market leader in the production of packaging tape solutions that open, close, inform, and protect. Learn more at: https://filtronatapes.com/

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