Packaging May 23, 2019

Digitalization of Packaging: the future of consumer brands

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Even more than advertising, packaging is a powerful brand ambassador at both the point of sale and point of use. It can get you emotional, impulsive, happy. With packaging you see, touch, smell…and now with technology, you get connected.

So what is the digitalization of packaging?

To make it simple, digital packaging is:

  1. Packaging that features connective technologies such as scannable codes or images and NFC (Near Field Communication) technologies. We’ll refer to this as the Internet of Packaging.
  2. Packaging that is integrated in digital marketing, making it play a bigger role in the marketing process rather than an isolated initiative.The aim is to make packaging the bridge to brand/consumer interactions through a digitally integrated workflow
    using social media, AR/VR etc.

Internet of Packaging

The Internet of Things (IoT) is making our lives as exciting as a sci-fi movie. Opening doors with your smartphone…or creating a temporary key for your delivery man to drop off your online order are examples of how cool IoT is. From connected fridges
or washing machines to something as simple as your soda bottle, IoT will give new innovative ways for brands to connect with their consumers.

An example is Amazon Dash. This is a small device that you stick on your appliance and at a push of the button, goods are automatically ordered when the level is low. Think of ink for your printer or soap for washing machine.

Picture 1: The Dash button for Tide on a washing machine

So by connecting packaging to the internet, brands are reaching the full potential of their most valuable media asset — thus creating endless customer experience possibilities but also brand engagement across the customer journey.

Ok, so how does this work?

Simply explained, each product gets a 12-character alphanumeric code that is scanned by the user to access an online platform. Through a promotional campaign, brands get connected to consumers, collecting data from demographics to purchasing habits. Companies
like evrythng.com help brands access real-time intelligence from their products.

Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality

More accessible than the previous examples, and also creating wow effects, is AR/VR. When coupled with packaging, outcomes can be amazing. It extends interaction with the brand. For example, brands can showcase their full range of products. We included that functionality while redesigning the new packaging of a spice brand, Comptoir des Epices. We can push it further by adding cooking tutorials, menu ideas and so on.

Picture 2: Use of AR to show the different range of spices for Comptoir des Epices

Brands also use this technology to entertain their audience and create magical moments. See an example from Bombay Sapphire below:

Bombay Sapphire partnered with Shazam to create a stunning AR animation

Some other really cool examples as described on Cambridge Design Partnership:

Luxury brand G.H.Mumm recently developed an intelligent’ champagne bottle. It was aptly launched in Monte Carlo on the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix last summer. A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip, triggered by a sensor in the cork as it pops’, connects to the lighting and sound system in the private club, which centres attention on the table opening a fresh Magnum.

Budweiser Brazil created ‘Buddy Cups’, which connect people via their Facebook profiles, triggered by a cheers gesture of two ‘intelligent’ paper cups. Whilst more a marketing activity than a truly realisable mass-market proposition, it did generate huge amounts of PR for the brand.

Diageo recently launched its limited edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label ‘smart bottle’ that comprises a NFC tag. The bottle knows when it’s been opened and can share this status information with a smartphone app. Diageo gain data about when and where the drink is consumed to understand behaviour better, and their customers benefit from targeted offers, new cocktail recipes and brand updates.

Heinz was an early adopter, back in 2011. Using their iconic ‘keystone’ label design as the trigger, customers could access a host of app-based recipe ideas simply by pointing their smartphone camera at a ketchup bottle. This is connected packaging with a twist; no increase in packaging cost and no environmental impact.

Why is it important?

Better reach your customers

It’s getting harder for brands to access that magical moment where their customers become receptive and brand-engaged. They need to get more and more creative as they know they cannot expect these kind of results from traditional media.

Better understand your customers with data

Beyond the wow effect, connected packaging will provide data to brands that is difficult to obtain from supermarkets. Charles Wells, a drinks brand, found out that their customers were actually 10 years younger, through a cashback promotion. You can only get this kind of intelligence through digital channels.

Mauritian marketers, now it’s your turn!

All of this is really exciting! For the moment, AR and NFC technologies are predominant. Brands can leverage the capabilities of smartphones in order to create marketing hype and engagement, to collect data, to provide innovation or simply be cool and stay relevant…With technology becoming more ubiquitous, accessible and affordable, brands can improve customer experience by transforming touchpoints into journeys. Truly, the sky is the limit…

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