How this innovative approach to packaging will help you connect with your audiences more

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Streams of ink (virtual or otherwise) have been employed to describe the intrinsic potential of packaging as part of the consumer experience with a product and brand. Packaging has a fundamental part in the buying process, even though it stands pretty far down the line in the purchasing experience. Why not bring it to the next level?

By affixing a QR code or an NFC to a pack, you are virtually spending nothing and still reaping great results. Now, we know what you're thinking. Will consumers actually scan the pack? Will they bother to visit the landing page we've purposely created for them?

The answer to those questions may surprise you. In fact, there are a number of misconceptions when it comes to smart packaging. To learn more about the topic, we reached out to Jenny Stanley, Managing Director at Appetite Creative, who shared her views on Connected Packaging below.


Connected packaging: Delivering a smart solution for advertisers

Packaging is extremely targeted marketing. It’s a direct gateway to the customer / audience who has already bought the product or is in the store aisle about to buy something similar. Most consumables are never decanted so the packaging it’s bought in becomes part of the consumer’s ongoing engagement and experience with the product and the brand. It’s marketing that keeps on communicating throughout the duration of the use of the product - so connected packaging has a much longer shelf-life versus other media channels.

The biggest misconception about connected packaging is that not many consumers bother to scan QR codes and NFC on packaging. At Appetite Creative, we actually see a 4% click-through rate (CTR) which is much higher than a digital advertising campaign that’s usually around 0.01% CTR.

There are also misconceptions around the financial implications of connected packaging.  The average cost per digital advertising click is £1.50, whereas a ‘click’ or scan on packaging is technically ‘free’, which should give brands a compelling reason to use connected packaging. 

Connecting with customers

All brands should want to understand and connect with their consumer more – this isn’t only a requirement for high value goods. It’s true across all brands, markets, and the globe.

Connected packaging can deliver a raft of brilliant direct to customer experiences. Our work often utilises competitions, which can be very sticky and encourage customer loyalty and repeat visits, but there are so many other opportunities delivered by connected packaging. These include tutorials or virtual product testing for beauty products, market research using questions and polls targeted directly at customers, and also sharing product instructions for example how to take a medicine or how to use personal care products such as teeth whitening strips or face masks. 

Connected packing is also a great way to share key product information, or inspiration in the form of product recipes and how to videos. It can also be used to share supply chain information for imported food or food safety details for food facing safety concerns. Marketing campaigns can also be carried out via connected packaging to inform new product development or help improve an advertising campaign. It can also be used as a loyalty card and to collect and redeem sampling vouchers. It’s an incredibly versatile media channel – as well as being agile, responsive and delivering customer data in real-time.

These types of insights can play a significant role in decision-making when it comes to the evolution of product creation and its rollout, something that Swiss milk processor Emmi has harnessed effectively. The largest Swiss milk processor Emmi and leading packaging company Tetra Pak teamed up with Appetite Creative to promote the launch of two new products, Oat & Milk Drink and Balance Drink, via interactive digital advertising and connected packaging. This was their second connected campaign, Emmi and Tetra Pack have been one of the first in the market to continuously engage with consumers digitally, while also educating key audiences about the benefits of existing and new products.

Connected packaging is a great way to share product information and connect with the audiences in a unique way

To achieve these goals, the team at Appetite Creative enabled unique QR codes to be added to the Tetra Pak packaging of Emmi’s new products. Once customers entered the web-based experience via a mobile scan of the QR code, they accessed four interactive games. To support this campaign and raise awareness of the chance to scan and win prizes and discounts, our team of designers and video editors also developed social media assets. Video ads and animated graphics were created and posted on Facebook, YouTube and Google Ads.

From the total page views collected over the four months the campaign was live, the users spent an average time of 2 minute and 41 seconds. Also, the market research style questions such as ‘Are you actively avoiding sugar in what you eat and drink?’ or ‘Is the sugar content of a product important to you?’ were answered more than 50,000 times. Helping consumers to learn more about the natural ingredients of the Emmi Good Day products and providing the company with insights about the users making this connected packaging project one of the most disruptive and successful of 2020.

Another great example of connected packaging is a recent PepsiCo campaign which put gamification at the heart of its graduate recruitment programme. A web-based app experience was designed that connected the gamification experience to PepsiCo’s data platforms. Built around 10 key brands, including Pepsi, Doritos and Walkers, the app experience runs alongside PepsiCo’s Dare To Do More programme, which was shared through key social media channels across Europe. 

Graduates are encouraged to scan barcodes on PepsiCo products to educate themselves about the different brands and gain points, with the highest number of points winning a reward. PepsiCo wanted to introduce candidates to its brands and culture, boost their experience and engage them with the recruitment process and attract a different type of talent. The proprietary gaming technology allows candidates to benefit from inspiration and information.

The different opportunities connected packaging can deliver to a brand helps build a unique and in-depth picture of consumer behaviour. This insight can be invaluable, assisting brands to better understand their target audiences, but also reach them more efficiently, building valuable engagement. Whether that is younger mobile-first audiences, or vertical-specific product fans, this data collection and analysis can guide both product and marketing strategies, harnessed through smart product packaging. 

Jenny Stanley is the Managing Director of Appetite Creative. Header image: PepsiCo Design & Innovation, Gold & Silver winners in The Annual 2021.


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