How Innovative Color-Changing Ink Reveals Hidden Messages
One of the key attributes of thermochromic ink is its ability to make beverage packaging more interactive before the product inside is consumed. These color-changing ink applications have been around for years, but a new collaboration between Crown and thermochromic ink specialist CTI, has resulted in a new type of packaging that flips the script by interacting with consumers during product consumption.
Instead of just having a graphic change color when a can is cold, Matt Twiss, marketing and business development director, CROWN Bevcan Europe & Middle East, explains that Reveal inks take interaction to the next level. Like other thermochromic applications, these cans change color when chilled, but then, as they warm up and the product inside is consumed, a hidden image or message will appear.
In an email to packagePRINTING, Twiss explains the way this hidden image application works is by using multiple inks to print the same image. For example, he writes that if a brand wanted to feature an image of fizzy bubbles on a beverage can, as the consumer drinks the contents of the can, the word “Refreshing” could appear, or a code that could be entered into a mobile app to win a prize.
“To make this happen, Reveal technology prints the fizzy bubbles with two inks,” Twiss writes. “When the can is warm, the bubbles are clear. Once the can is chilled down to say 10°C, all of the bubbles (printed with both inks) turn aqua. As the consumer drinks the beverage, the first ink 'shuts off' (e.g. returns to a clear color), while the second ink stays 'on,' revealing the message. The second ink then shuts off at around 22°C in a process that can be repeated continuously.”
The inspiration behind the creation of Reveal ink, Twiss explains, came from a desire to make an ordinary experience more interesting and engaging. He explains that drinking a beverage from a can is a normal, every day activity for countless consumers. By adding a new element to a daily experience, Twiss says consumers are likely to notice the change and pay attention.
“By creating a truly interactive experience, consumers are likely to pay more attention to the messaging – particularly if that messaging adds value to their experience,” Twiss writes. “Marketers can also extend engagement by using Reveal as the driver for promotions, giveaways and contests, for example, adding fun into the experience and extending interaction with the brand.”
Thermochromic ink is definitely a cool asset to add to a package, and when done right, can be downright impressive. But, the issue with thermochromic ink, is that most consumers have seen it before and it may not carry the same “wow factor” it once did.
By creatively implementing multiple layers of temperature-sensitive ink, Crown and CTI have developed an attractive packaging attribute that brands can leverage to not only make their packaging more eye-catching and interactive, but also simultaneously increase its communication capabilities.