I’m a big fan of grocery shopping. I really love large supermarkets and for me personally, there’s nothing better than strolling through a hallway of giant shelfs filled with anything you can imagine. Fresh fruits and vegetables, tasty snacks, and of course refreshing canned drinks. However, the continuously growing supply of all kinds of goods leads to a tricky problem.

Imagine the following situation: you’re standing in front of a humongous store shelf and looking for some nice drinks for the next time you invite your lads to watch football. Given that they like all kinds of drinks and don’t prefer any specific brands, what is your buying decision based on? Which drivers make you buy one canned drink instead of another? As you obviously can’t evaluate the taste of the drinks prior to opening, the only aspect you can base your decision on is optical appearance. Luckily, most companies are well aware of this and spend a reasonable amount of time on creating an appealing look for their products. Ultimately, they are striving to create eye-catching packaging designs, which set their products apart from everything else.

Thermo-What? Chameleon Inks!

A great way to achieve this is by using thermochromic inks. Thermochromic inks let beverage cans change their colour and make them appear in a chameleon-like manner. The technology is quite simple: two temperature-sensitive inks show up at the same time when the can is cold, but since one ink is colourless at room temperature, it is invisible when the can isn’t chilled. In combination with a third, ambient image, an interactive experience before, during and after the consumption can be delivered.

The most recent example of a company using this packaging style is Coca-Cola. Coke, Coke Zero, Fanta and Sprite cans with thermochromic inks are being sold in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Each one of the drinks includes either a person or a cartoon-style animal, from which a speech bubble emanates to hold the thermochromic message. As the text in the bubbles can’t be seen before the cans have actually been cooled, the company provides a good additional reason to purchase the drinks – especially for very curious shoppers.

Unchilled Drinks are a Thing of the Past

The technology is perfectly suitable to create short, yet effective messages, as has already been shown by Lipton last summer. Developed for the music festival “Tomorrowland” in Belgium, Lipton used thermochromic inks to spread the motto “Love”. Again, the slogan only appeared as soon as the cans had reached the optimal temperature for consumption. A quite similar concept can be observed on the beer cans of “Coors Light”. When cooled, the cans’ white, snow-capped mountains transform to a deep shade of blue to indicate that the beverage is ready to consume. From these examples, it becomes apparent that thermochromic inks are not only a clever marketing tool, but can also help to improve people’s experience with the product. Just let your canned drink tell you itself when its temperature is perfect for consumption – pretty sci-fi, isn’t it?

I bet you’ve all had some trouble with a lukewarm beer before, haven’t you? If so, then better keep an eye out for some colour-changing cans and let the magic happen.

I’m pretty excited for my first colour-changing can! What about you? Have you already had a can that changed its colour when it was cooled? Tell us your experience in the comment section below.

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