CTI’s new solvent technology drives cup innovations

An example of CTI's thermochromic cold reveal technology

Specialty inks that are popular among consumers for driving interest on packaging for beer, soda and candy are now also feasible for fountain cups, as a result of Chromatic Technologies’ invention of solvent-specialty inks.

CTI invented a new suite of colour-change technologies using solvent inks, including thermochromic (temperature-activated), photochromic (sunlight-activated), glow-in-the-dark and reveal technology (wherein a message is revealed after product consumption). Previously, solvent-ink printers were forced to use water-based inks that slowed down manufacturing operations; CTI’s new solvent-specialty inks eliminate the operational hurdles of water-based inks.

CTI’s consumer research has found that colour-change technology is a tool for brands to drive content on their social media platforms. CTI has found that when brands do a great job of creating “wow” experiences on their packaging, consumers turn and share that story with their friends on social media. This quickly results in increased sales as friends try the new technology and share their experiences.

“Consumers have their phone in their right hand and a Starbucks, Coke or Coors Light in their left hand,” explained Patrick Edson, former vice-president of consumer insights for Coors Brewing Company and, since 2012, the chief marketing officer for CTI.

“In brand mapping exercises, we call this challenge ‘getting the right hand to talk to the left hand.’ If you can create an experience or start a story with your product in the consumer’s left hand; they in turn will share that experience on their phone in the right hand.

 “Brands realise that the colour-change technology is more than just creating an experience on a cup, it’s a new form of content for digital marketing,” Edson added.

Lyle Small, founder of CTI, weighed in: “Colour-change technology is now affordable for cup printers and they offer a tremendous innovation tool for printers to help drive new margin for their customers in quick-serve restaurants and convenience stores.”

For over a decade, brands such as Coors Light have used thermochromic inks to turn its mountains on the packaging blue to deliver on the promise of Rocky Mountain Cold Refreshment. Coca-Cola ensured a cold promise for 7-Eleven consumers with its “Ice Cube” 16oz can. Cheetos used photochromic technology in Mexico for its “Where’s Chester?” promotion on chip bags. Oreo supported the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with Glow-in-the-Dark packaging.

Owing to the considerable growth of CTI, the company now offers in-house design services to help cup printers and brand owners develop concepts that can be quickly tested with consumers.

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