4 Ways Pharma Can Implement a Connected Packaging Strategy
By Karl Berta
Karl Berta

The path to purchase can be challenging as it can consist of thousands of channels, ranging from in-store experiences and visual content on social media, to e-commerce and advertising. 

All of these channels need to be tailored for individual buyer personas to enforce deeper brand-customer relationships. In order for pharma companies to thrive in today’s competitive market, however, they must find new ways to build a stronger consumer and patient connection. One way to achieve this is through connected packaging.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the global pharmaceutical packaging market is expected to grow from US$90bn in 2019 to $142bn by 2027. While connected packaging has already been widely implemented in the fast-moving consumer goods and food and beverage industries through initiatives like SmartLabel, it should come as no surprise that the pharma industry is borrowing lessons on how to implement a connected packaging strategy. 

With the unprecedented sense of urgency in advancing digital transformation efforts in response to evolving market trends, connected packaging can help to accelerate pharma’s digital economy, playing a role in driving business continuity and creating a connected omnichannel consumer experience. 

Ultimately it can help pharma to build a deeper and richer brand–customer relationship. It also provides companies with the opportunity to collect data throughout the product’s lifecycle, while adhering to and improving patient compliance.

Below, we outline four ways connected packaging can help pharma companies engage, educate and inform users on their products.

1. Create a deeper connection with the consumer or patient

In the evolving market of direct-to-patient, brands have a unique opportunity to create stories, conversations and loyalty by connecting their product packaging to digital channels in a proactive way. In the past, consumers have lacked the applications and technology to connect with brands in a personal way and were often not sufficiently motivated to engage.

Due to the limitations of face-to-face interactions during the Covid-19 pandemic, brands can leverage their packaging in a new way to deliver messaging that was once reserved for doctor's offices, hospitals and other face-to-face interactions.

By connecting all touchpoints of the user journey through connected packaging, brands can optimize their media spend while building customer loyalty — redirecting budgets from traditional channels into more efficient and targeted connected activities.

2. Support patient safety

A report by the World Health Organization shows that counterfeit drugs account for 8–15 per cent of all pharmaceutical and drug products retailed globally. Connected packaging technology has the power to alert, educate and empower consumers to identify the counterfeit products at all stages.

In addition to anti-counterfeiting efforts, connected packaging can help address concerns around medical ingredients and the interaction of different medications. It can also become a direct link to patient support and resources, and a vital source of information on how the drug should be used.

Connected packaging can help turn standard printed instructions for use into videos, tutorials and other engaging experiences to promote patient adherence and safety to their prescriptions.

3. Showcase corporate initiatives

By creating an “always-on” digital channel to customers through packaging, companies can personalize, adjust and optimize relevant messaging. Brands can address important corporate messages and initiatives in new and innovative ways and continuously adapt these communications based on data and metric insights and analysis.

By leveraging data to create a new type of brand agility, pharma companies can go well beyond the shelf or pharmacy to bring enhanced value to their consumers and patients.

4. Track packaging materials 

With increasing pressures to improve product transparency and packaging sustainability, formula development, product sourcing, chain of custody and the transportation supply chain, connected packaging will enable pharma companies to create solution pathways for tracking and product authenticity.

Package connectivity is about more than delivering reductions in technology and implementation costs – pharma organizations are also seeing the opportunity to optimize their entire marketing ecosystem and packaging supply chain.

These four solutions will help digital pharma brands cater efficiently and effectively to their users while facilitating business growth.

About Karl Berta
Karl Berta is a VP, Commercial for SGK Health. He has over 30 years of experience in consulting, project management, business development, and brand marketing within the healthcare, pharma, retail, and CPG industries. He can be reached at