Committee Blog: Opportunities & Challenges with Next Gen Packaging In the Legal Cannabis Market
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Committee Blog: Opportunities & Challenges with Next Gen Packaging In the Legal Cannabis Market


by NCIA’s Packaging and Labeling Committee/ Next-Gen Sub-Committee
Lisa Hansen, Plaid Cannabiz Marketing & Brian Smith, Satori Wellness 

What Is Next Gen, Anyway?!

It’s a new year, a new decade and quite frankly—a new era of packaging in the cannabis industry. We are officially face-to-face with next gen packaging in our ever-growing market. But what is next gen packaging, anyway? By definition, next-generation packaging is “basically a packaging technology, which possesses different advanced features, such as traceability, offers various benefits such as product shelf life extension and provides product quality information.” 

Essentially, it’s taking our cannabis packaging to the next level.

The Growing Opportunities

With new products, formats, and technologies available, the opportunities for next gen cannabis packaging are limitless. In fact, there are so many options for next gen technologies that our NCIA Packaging and Labeling Committee has organized a subcommittee that is dedicated to the topic. We’ve also created subcommittees for Sustainability, Honesty in Labeling and Intellectual Property and Protection. A new era for packaging indeed!

Today’s cannabis cosumers are supporting the legal market for its quality and transparency, and today’s cannabis retailers need accessible platforms to educate them. These dynamics create an environment where next gen packaging (and merchandising) can really shine. With these new tools, brands can immediately engage, inform, and incite action.

Dreams Vs. Reality

While our hopes are super high for next gen cannabis packaging, the reality can be a bit of a buzzkill. In a state-by-state market, the variables for packaging create an inherently significant expense. And with regulations frequently shifting, it makes investing in premium packaging challenging, to say the least. There’s also the complication of managing data and actions behind a next gen platform. Worth the effort? We sure think so. And the good news is that next gen packaging is designed to be measurable so there’s data to evaluate its impact. 

Promising Examples

The applications of next gen packaging for cannabis are seemingly limitless. Everything from a simple QR code, to complicated anti-counterfeiting technology, are possible. Augmented and virtual reality, scratch and sniff add ons, and improved breathability all present powerful opportunities to quickly and effectively affect a purchase decision. 

KURZ is really pushing the boundaries of cannabis packaging with value-added security and technology solutions that are not only effective but purposefully decorative. Think holograms on packaging that can be used for anti-counterfeiting and other special finishes that add pop but are also sustainably produced. Now we’re talking next gen! 

BUNDLAR is getting ahead of the curve with what they call “AR made Easy.” By making aspects of AR technology publicly available as well as offering customization, brands can more easily experiment with this exciting new platform. 

The strategic approach to structural design that Greenlane is taking and the inspiring steps SANA Packaging has made with hemp-based materials are other compelling examples of the momentum in next gen packaging. Perhaps the most promising example of all is that as an industry, we’re just getting started. 

New Decade, New Attitude 

Our subcommittee predicts more exploration in cannabis with packaging that covers the exciting world of next gen possibilities in this new 2020 era and beyond. Which brands will step up? Will retailers ask for it? Will consumers pay for the experience? In an industry that refuses to stand still, these questions will inevitably be answered. The Packaging and Labeling Committee will be watching and sharing more examples and insights in additional articles.

Are you using next gen packaging? Drop a comment and share your experience!

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