More than an off-the-self solution: How Connected Packaging builds customer awareness and engagement.

by First Descent AR • 3 March 2022

It’s tough to stand out in a crowded physical retail environment. You’re competing with the scent of deep-fried goodness wafting in from the food court, and the bustle of families all around you. On top of that – your packaged product is literally flanked by its competitors on the shelf.

Package design and branding have their place in helping you stand out from the crowd. But you might be a QR code (and some help from your favourite AR studio) away from tapping into an innovative opportunity that could make customers literally dance in the aisles. But more on that in a second...

To find out whether Connected Packaging represents an opportunity for engagement for your packaged goods (spoiler alert – it is), let’s learn what it is, and how marketers are unleashing its potential to improve sales and customer engagement.

Connected Packaging: a primer

Connected Packaging – transforming a package into a digital, interactive experience – isn’t exactly new. Some packaged consumer goods embraced it in its infancy a few years ago, but most have been slower to adopt the technology as a standard. Which means there’s a leadership position ripe for the picking – that is, for those who execute with strategy and purpose.

Even the concept is a familiar one. If you’ve ever played the games and riddles on the backs of cereal boxes, you've engaged with the analog version. Today’s Connected Packaging takes that concept, and executes it in the digital realm. Using AR and a smartphone interface, brands can bring their mascots to life off the box, and on the kitchen counter, or immerse audiences in three-dimensional games …and that’s only scratching the surface.

Using the package as a vehicle to deliver a digital experience not only works at the point of sale in the moment of intent, but it can also carry over into the consumer’s home, at their workplace, or on their commute home... virtually anywhere. Making that take-home experience more memorable and unique can set you apart from your competitors in any number of ways. For now, let’s take a look at five examples.

Five ways Connected Packaging can enhance awareness, engagement and loyalty to your product.

1. Engage consumers with useful information, delivered immersively.

Engagement from your packaging can take on many forms and use many different mediums with the AR experience. Your ‘story’ could be anything from “How to assemble this product” to “What to do with the product” or “How to use this product”.

Imagine... It’s dinner time. You go to your cupboard, and find a box of pasta but are struggling to come up with dinner ideas to use it. You scan the QR code on the back, and recipe ideas appear to hover over the box. You select the one you and your family might enjoy the most, and a video of a professional chef appears on your smartphone, and walks you through the ingredients and preparation tips. Bon appetit!

2. Create an event to build consumer loyalty.

Creating a memorable digital experience that delivers value in the form of entertainment or information helps to build memorable experiences for your customers and instill a sense of loyalty with your brand.

Imagine... You’ve just purchased a new set of musician-endorsed headphones. You scan the QR code on the packaging, and following the instructions, you scan a flat surface and tap the screen. Right on your mobile device, one of your favourite artists appears and performs their latest single! At the tap of a button, you capture that performance with a screenshot or video and share it with your friends – extending your moment of engagement with that headphone brand to the world.

3. Build a game that customers can play, with your product as the star.

Let’s face it: everyone loves a bit of a good, challenging, well-designed time-waster. Games are a popular form of engagement. And just like the cereal or Cracker Jack boxes of the past, AR puts a tech twist on an old idea.

Imagine*... You see a call to action on your package that prompts you to play an interactive game. You scan the QR code, and an AR game launches on your mobile device. Suddenly, you’re immersed in a 3D environment on screen, tackling the challenge of finding hidden animals or items in that three-dimensional world. Maybe you’re even incentivized or rewarded based on how quickly you complete the task!

* Good news: you don’t have to ‘imagine’ this scenario. We built this game for [client] based off of the theme of their pre-existing campaign. See the work here.

4. Use your packaging as its own salesperson.

As mentioned, sometimes your product is on the shelf with a number of other ‘like’ offerings – and not every consumer will know the difference. Connected packaging provides a way to standout in that crowded environment, and could help influence a buyer’s choice in that moment of intent.

Imagine... You’re in a retail store (remember those?) looking at a row of seemingly similar computer components. There’s no staff to be found, and your eyeballs are scanning specs on each products’ box trying to get a sense of which one’s right for you. You see a QR code on the side of one box. You scan it, and a virtual sales representative appears on your screen. They run you through the benefits of that product – even providing some information on how it compares to competitors. And just like that, you’ve narrowed your choices down to one perfect product.

5. Build customers’ awareness of your broader offering.

Sometimes, a customer might know about (or learn about) one product you offer, but be in the market for many more. Capturing a greater share of market means getting on their choice set for all those purchase opportunities. And AR can help put you top of mind.

Imagine... You’ve got a loyal customer who orders one of your products like clockwork every month. But you’ve got a diverse product assortment they don’t seem to know about. This month, they receive your package and notice a new QR code on the packaging. Curious, they scan the code and are served up an interactive catalogue – starting with products you offer that work in tandem with the item they just purchased. With each new discovery, they can explore videos and tutorials on your entire inventory – all within that one interface.

Connected Packaging delivers data that drive business decisions, on real estate you own

Of course, one of the unsung advantages of any Connected Packaging solution is data gathering. Simply put, you can make better and more informed decisions based on real world data gathered through the web-based AR.
Anything you can track in a web space, you can also track in web-based AR. Number of visits, length of visit, events within the experience –and that's just scratching the surface. Watch the data to see what your consumers are choosing, using, playing and learning. And use that insight to design more, and more effective ways to reach them through your packaging.

Research shows that customers want to engage with brands and products, and are willing invest the time in order to gain greater value and deeper connections with them. There are so many great reasons to take advantage of your packaging real estate. But perhaps the best reason is it’s real estate you already own. You control it, and you can unleash it to create that added value for your customers, and your company.

Imagine that.