Five Ways AR Can Improve Package Design

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Five Ways AR Can Improve Package Design

By Danielle Sauvé, Danaher - 06/27/2018

Executives want to see a newly designed package in real life before they approve it. But the "analog industry" method of showing executives design mockups — printing, folding, cutting, and superimposing the design onto a dummy container — is less efficient and less effective than what could be done with virtual reality. 

Long the fantasy platform of video games and movies, VR is now being applied to businesses and the lives of consumers. A Worldplay study finds that 65% of consumers believe that VR can change the way they shop. 

In the fast-moving consumer goods market, the VR revolution is already underway. L’Oreal, for one, created a virtual reality “Beauty Lab” to increase efficiency during the packaging decision-making process. The company's Dermablend brand tested its new design in the lab, rendering packages with 3D modeling and then placing the product inside a virtual Ulta store to gain immediate feedback from a focus group. 

How can you take advantage of VR technology? Here are five ways designers and executives can leverage VR in the packaging value chain right now:

1. Get faster concept approval. The whole point of printing, cutting and folding a package into a mockup is to give brand leaders confidence that their packages will look good at the end of the long design process. With VR, you can achieve visualization and save on the costs of printing, shipping, materials and time spent. 

By visualizing package design in VR, executives get a 3D peek while easily being able to request changes (like color scheme) that previously could have taken days or even weeks. And, the later you make a change in the packaging process, the more expensive it gets. When teams virtualize product packaging early and gain the feedback and approvals needed quickly, they're saved from adjusting layout, color and messaging while under pressure at the press.

2. Create more accurate comps. The art of mocking up a comp package is limited when it comes to special effects, especially those that command a premium and are found on luxury brand bottles and boxes. These materials are usually expensive, driving up costs — even as the accuracy of comped premium finishes declines. 

Foil finishes, coatings, crimping, embossing, hot foil stamping, metallic inks, opaque white, clear boxes, matte and gloss varnishes, holographic foils, iridescent pigments — these are just some examples of things you can’t actually achieve on a comp, outside of an actual production run. 

3. See the final package in multiple contexts. Just as VR lets executives see what the package looks like early in the value chain, placing a product in a VR environment lets you see how it will pop on the shelf.  

For example, beverage manufacturers need their bottles to perform in a diverse array of environments: drugstore, grocery store and warehouse club, but also on the mahogany bar in a home and in a dimly lit bar with mirrored glass. Using VR to test packaging in all those contexts — even down to a small shop in another country — is therefore invaluable. With so many expense and time constraints, there’s no other expedient way to physically test all of those locations.

Furthermore, immersive VR technologies that use Oculus enable "shoppers" to physically walk around a grocery store, bar or other created scenario and pick up items directly off the shelf. It’s easy to see the value in constructing a virtual store to improve your package design and marketing messaging by seeing it in its intended environment. 

4. Enable faster, more sustainable consumer research. When the design concept is complete, brand leaders commission research studies to see whether the package performs with consumers in different markets. In a process that can take up to 12 weeks, mockups are couriered from city to city, allowing moderators to collect feedback from consumers through focus groups and roadshows. 

VR lets brands skip that long process by sending virtual mockups to different physical events across the world at the same time and even leveraging online consumer panels. Data collection and feedback that once took weeks can now be accomplished within hours. Beyond saving time, its also saves the cost of materials and transportation.

5. Predict the appearance of color. While many brands use color chips and swatches, they may not be utilizing online tools that virtualize appearance. 

Digital-dependent color standards let designers see how colorwill appear and how they might change based on the substrate being used. Digital color standards can also be implemented into VR technologies. As with other VR applications, using virtualized color software helps anticipate production issues early in the creative process, when colors are selected and specified. 

With VR, designers can provide a more accurate representation of how packaging will look in its competitive environment. In this way, VR simplifies the packaging value chain, making the job of designers as well as leaders easier while saving time and money. 

Once you start using VR in packaging, you’ll learn that the benefits are "VVR" — very, very real.

About the Author
Danielle Sauvé is director of customer insights and experience for Danaher Product Identification.Sheis a marketing technologist, writer and strategist for a collection of global companies owned by Danaher, including Pantone, MediaBeacon, Esko, X-Rite, AVT, Laetus and Videojet. During her 16-year career, Sauvé has held positions in many parts of the consumer packaging ecosystem: product manufacturer, promotional agency, brand strategy and package design firm, premedia firm and packaging management software start-up, giving her a uniquely broad perspective.