Smart Pharmaceutical Packaging = Stronger Customer Engagement

Pharmaceutical packaging design has gotten a whole lot smarter. Why? Because customer engagement demanded it, and pharma companies don’t lose sales.

Smart pharmaceutical packaging

How important is it to engage the consumer through package design?


A few years ago many companies didn’t pay much attention to pharmaceutical packaging, at least in terms of the consumer. Today, marketing to the consumer is extremely important. That means taking note of message delivery as well as items ranging from printable electronics to augment the plastic bags, polystyrene containers, pharmaceutical collapsible aluminum tubes and cardboard boxes used to package the product.

McKinsey and Company, recently reported that, “Focusing too narrowly on clinical value often leads companies to neglect a powerful driver of launch success: the customer experience.”

Creating superior customer experiences is particularly relevant at launch because the performance of a new drug in its first six months tends to determine its market share thereafter.

With the understanding that unless the customer is engaged, the product has a high chance of failure. This has put a lot of pressure on pharmaceutical packaging companies to not only have security solutions that meet rigid standards, but to pair them with creative design aspects of packaging to achieve customer engagement.

Pharma companies have a new found understanding that customer experiences can create advocates for their products and brands. The result is smart Pharmaceutical packaging with attention to high-quality products with patient-friendly design.


There are some aspects that are especially important for the Pharmaceutical industry, in terms of medicinal ingredients and legal disclaimers to other drugs that consumers should not ingest at the same time. This makes designing for pharmaceutical packaging a real challenge.

Smart pharmaceutical packaging companies are finding processes to accommodate some very custom requirements in very unique ways, let’s take a look at some of this ‘smart packaging’.


Time-temperature indicators

As mentioned above, the pharmaceutical industry has some really critical requirements for example; many injectable drugs cannot be removed from a refrigerated environment for more than 10 minutes. So medicinal packaging companies use intelligent packaging technology to create labels that keep steady track of a product’s temperature during the shipping process. At the same time, it gives an opportunity to provide valuable information that doctors or pharmacists can use to decide whether the drugs are safe to use or not. Those are the achievements of technology development that can give humans and medicinal industry workers to process this kind of activities.


Track and trace

By combining an NFC tag with a box serial number, the pharmaceutical industry can track the whereabouts of its merchandise, perhaps monitoring where it can be sent or where it’s going, potentially streamlining the distribution or recall process.


Smart Packaging

The existence of smart packaging options is not a secret anymore. And the exciting part is that it uses tools available now that we didn’t have in the past, like visual cue in alignment with the brand in packaging – colour, graphics, imagery, typography, package structure, and communication. Smart applications like QR or 2D codes can be embedded in the packaging. Consumers who use social media can simply scan packaging with their cell phones for more information about products. They even can download coupons or enter contests. Meanwhile, younger consumers might scan codes to play games. All of these attracts the customers and leads to greater engagement and brand interaction.


Chemical sensors

The experience has shown that expiration dates don’t really mean anything. They simply mean the manufacturer has done their testing to find out the ‘risk point’ where they really have to worry and backtracked that date by a week or so… So there is science behind it, but it’s not hard and fast. Though it’s more common to the food packaging industry, where misunderstood expiration dates contribute significantly to food waste, and in this case, only intelligent packaging can solve this problem in the form of chemical sensors. Those sensors can be used to detect chemicals or bacteria released by a product when it’s no longer safe to use. As for the pharmaceutical industry, it can be a good solution to control all this kind of problems that can be harmful.

Customer Satisfaction

Traditionally, pharma launches have been all about the new drug or medical device in question: its clinical efficacy, its safety, its superiority to alternatives, and its ease of use. In the buildup to launch, the product is front and centre and the goal is to address patients’ medical needs and prescribers’ professional needs. Any issues with customer satisfaction and loyalty are identified and tackled after the event.


Focusing too narrowly on clinical value often leads companies to neglect a powerful driver of launch success. By addressing pain points along patient and prescriber journeys, companies can increase customer satisfaction, improve adherence, and boost revenues. When one company launched an app that acts as a digital companion for patients, for instance, it saw revenues for its new rheumatoid arthritis therapy rise by 8 per cent. As complexity increases in the pharma market and competition intensifies in areas such as oncology and immunology, optimizing the customer experience becomes even more important.


Across industries, companies are increasingly organizing their business around their customers’ needs and standards.

It is obvious not only as of the value delivered by the product or service itself, but also considering it as an experience of learning about it, choosing it, buying it, and using it in everyday life. This is what usually described as the customer journey. A new discipline, customer-experience design, has grown up around the realization that creating easy, distinctive, and rewarding customer experiences can unlock enormous value by boosting loyalty, reducing leakage and churn, and making companies stand out from the herd.

Indeed, designing best-in-class customer experiences has the power to transform entire industries, but for most pharma companies, it requires an even greater level of attention. It requires putting the the customer at the center of the launch and addressing customers’ emotional and behavioral needs as well as their clinical ones.


Research has shown that customer satisfaction truly matters in pharma, even with great drugs. A study conducted among 600 immunologists in Germany and the United States found out that when prescribers are fully satisfied with their journey for a particular drug and with the medicinal company’s contribution to it, they are more than twice as likely as dissatisfied ones to prescribe it.

Consequently, pharmaceutical companies are pairing pharmaceutical packaging companies with brand packaging design companies to drive attention to the customer experience. This guarantees an increase in satisfaction as well as a boost in sales and market share.