It’s not an everyday occurrence for a consumer to walk through a liquor store and have an interactive conversation with a bottle of beer, but it looks like we are definitely heading that way. Internet of Things (IoT) packaging platform providers Multi-Color Corporation (MCC) and Talkin’ Things have developed a smart packaging label that utilizes Augmented Reality (AR) and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to create an interactive and unique customer experience. Black Red Ale beer is the first product to test out this unique combination of technologies with an interactive “talking” skull on its label that can converse with consumers by using facial recognition and unique scenarios that are dependent on their emotions.
Customers can easily scan the product’s smart label by using an app on their phones. Once scanned, the bottle’s skull image comes to life on a consumer’s phone screen and starts an interactive conversation with whoever is holding the phone. Facial recognition is used to identify a consumer’s emotions and tailor the conversation between the consumer and skull. This technology is constantly used throughout the entire dialogue so that the skull can have a flowing conversation with each consumer.
“Thanks to our labeling production capabilities and Talkin’ Things technology combined with creative services, we are able to offer our clients a brand new solution that will completely transform a product and change the way end-customers interact with it,” Craig Miller, President of NA CPG at Multi-Color told Food Ingredients First.
Additionally, the NFC smart label applied to the beer bottle’s neck provides a proof of purchase solution and it also recognizes when the bottle has been opened so that the talking skull can provide different messages to consumers before and after opening.
This new and unique packaging technology is set to become more common in the near future as consumers are already starting to interact with smart packaging. Last month, The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) launched a new marketing campaign to promote the SmartLabel program, which supports the use of QR codes on food packaging. These QR codes are commonly used to provide consumers with detailed descriptions of food products. However, NFC and AR provide a much more interactive experience for consumers and helps to humanize a brand.
Consumers are known to purchase products that resonate with their beliefs and values. This new packaging solution gives food companies a chance to create memorable experiences with consumers directly through their product packaging. NFC and AR can also be used to promote company values and initiatives which can help in persuading consumers to purchase products.
European packaging company Constantia Flexibles is also innovating in the food packaging field with interactive packaging technology. The maker of flexible packaging offers a holographic type of packaging that can be activated through a similar smartphone app. Once a consumer scans the product packaging they can view ads, videos and even play games that are projected off of the packaging through their phones.
“Mobile devices are taking over as the number one source for consumers to receive product information,” said Thomas Schulz, Vice President of Food and Group Marketing at Constantia Flexibles in an Xtalks webinar. “Consumers are online – this means brands need to be online via digital media.”
Schulz went on to share statistics regarding smart packaging in the European market, such as the fact that 69 percent of consumers would purchase or at least pick up a product with interactive packaging off the shelf to examine it. In addition, 58 percent of German consumers are willing to download brand-specific apps to access interactive packaging, which can help in building brand loyalty as well.
In addition to interacting directly with consumers, food companies can also collect real-time information on consumers through NFC and AR. This type of technology is expected to continue to grow in the retail industry with the market for augmented reality estimated to be worth over $175 billion by 2024. This spells out the future of retail and is indicative of how important it is to create memorable and meaningful experiences with consumers because consumers want experiences, not things.