Remember the first time you spotted your name on a bottle of Coca-Cola or peeled a free McFlurry sticker from your fries during the McDonald’s Monopoly promotion? For a brief moment, you couldn’t help but love that brand.
Brands have long used packaging design and innovative features as a way to captivate audiences, from fold-out stickering to chill & reveal win mechanics, creating a longer interaction with shoppers before they make their way to the waste basket. Along with an unexpectedly quirky tone of voice on packaging that brands like Innocent champion, these techniques turn a functional item into an emotional experience too.
But in a competitive market where it’s increasingly difficult to stand out, smart brands are using connected packaging to elevate their products and grab customer attention. Connected packaging transforms simple packaging into digital experiences through a single mobile tap.
QR codes, once thought to be headed for the promotional graveyard, are now the go-to springboard to added value content due to their use in COVID track and trace communications. Barcodes and NFC tags are also a way of engaging with people.
What you do with the connected experience is up to you. Some brands and retailers send customers to an interactive game. Others tell their brand story, give consumers a chance to win free products, collect valuable data or even integrate an augmented reality experience. The opportunities are practically endless.
Connected packaging is taking off fast. According to Data Bridge the global market will grow to $31.94 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 7.4%. Consumers love it, too. A SharpEnd report shows almost two-thirds of UK respondents and three-quarters of US consumers are willing to work out how to engage with product packaging using their smartphone.
We like to think we know a thing or two about packaging having worked with the UK’s number one retailer, the country’s second-biggest pet food manufacturer and a leading university to redesign packaging. So when we say that connected packaging is one of the most effective ways to captivate customers before and after purchase, that means we think it’s a must for any brand looking to stand out on supermarket shelves.
If you’re looking for ideas on creating an attention-grabbing digital experience, there’s no shortage of brands to take inspiration from.
Yeo Valley Recipes
Dairy brand Yeo Valley uses connected packaging to deliver timely recipes and other content to customers. They also use connected packaging to incentivise customers to use their Yeokens loyalty program.
Tetra Pak uses QR codes to launch an environment-themed quiz that entertains consumers while educating them about the company’s sustainability work.
Heinz has been using connected packaging since 2012 when it launched its “Join the Growing Movement” campaign. When customers scanned a QR code on the bottle, Heinz launched an app that explained how small changes to daily routines could make for a more sustainable life. For every consumer who pledged to live more sustainably, Heinz planted a tree - 57,000 in total.
Still think connected packaging is all style, no substance? Think again. Connected packaging offers retail brands some pretty big benefits.
Make Sure You’re Message is Heard
Every brand has something important to say, but customers rarely pay attention. Connected packaging helps make that a thing of the past by significantly increasing the likelihood customers will notice your product and engage with your brand story.
You don’t have to worry about squeezing everything onto your physical packaging, either. That will be a big relief to your copywriter, and it will also allow you to potentially create more eye-catching packaging designs without having to worry about getting all the information onto the packaging itself.
Capture First-Party Data
It’s harder than ever for brands to acquire customer data. But fear not, connected packaging provides a way for brands to collect data from customers while engaging with them directly. This isn’t about getting data for data’s sake, however. Better first-party data allows you to personalise the customer experience, improve products and better meet your customers’ needs.
Boost Brand Engagement and Awareness
Unlike other mediums, connected packaging is still rare enough that consumers haven’t become blind to it. Not only do engagement levels soar as a result, but so does brand awareness - especially when consumers tell their friends about the captivating experience you created.
Increase Customer Loyalty
Connected packaging can help brands take customer loyalty efforts to new heights. It’s relatively common for product packaging to offer customers the chance to win a discount or a product for free, but connected packaging can go much deeper.
Use it to create a virtual loyalty card that tracks consumer purchases over time or a tombola-style virtual game where consumers have the chance to win much bigger prizes without having to post their lid to a PO box.
Drive Revenue Through Attention
Ultimately, all of the benefits we’ve described above - improved storytelling, more first-party data, boosts in brand engagement and increased customer loyalty - happen because you’ve captured the customer’s attention. When you do that, an increase in revenue isn’t far behind.
How to Make the Most of Smart and Connected Packaging
Excited to get started? We can’t wait to start experimenting with connected packaging, either — and we’ll be bearing these five things in mind when we do.
Use the Right Engagement Strategy for Your Audience
Different connected experiences will attract different audiences and demographics. Games may not impress older consumers, but that doesn’t mean a well-written quiz won’t. You can only truly capture attention when you deliver the right experience for your specific audience and forget about trying to please everyone.
Raise Awareness of Connected Packaging Through Other Channels
Connected packaging should be a multi-channel campaign. While some consumers will find it by accident, your efforts will be much more effective if you tease your new packaging across social media and other channels before releasing it.
Get Creative With Your Connected Packaging
Please, please, please don’t just use a QR code to link to your brand’s homepage. Nothing could be less satisfying for consumers. That’s not to say that digital engagement efforts have to be groundbreaking, though. A simple quiz or well-designed web page can go a long way. If in doubt, reach out to a proven brand and retail marketing agency for help.
Don’t Let it Expire
This one’s pretty simple. You don’t know how long your products will sit on supermarket shelves for, so make sure that your connected experience stays online and active indefinitely.
Use Our EEAD Model
We live in a much more complicated world than ever before, and traditional purchase journeys feel a little out of date now.
The balance of power has shifted from brands to people, and paths to purchase are no longer linear. To activate people, you have to captivate people.
To do this, we have a tried and tested approach, aka our ‘EEAD’ model. It’s our proprietary tool that guides every meaningful intervention we create on behalf of brands. EEAD stands for Entertain, Engage, Advise, Direct. It’s the 4 main ways to captivate people. Fortunately, connected packaging is a natural fit.
Connected packaging is inherently entertaining to consumers right now. It’s incredibly engaging, as we’ve already discussed, and a great way to advise them with an exchange of value. If they haven’t already made a purchase decision, it can direct them to do so or to take an alternative meaningful action.
When each step is used to its full potential, you’ll captivate your audience, turn browsers into buyers and buyers into loyal customers.
Global retailers are already incorporating connected experiences into their packaging, will you be next?
If you want to follow suit and discover how to grab attention with this latest trend, get in touch to request a bespoke captivation audit from our expert team. We’ll help you analyse how connected packaging can benefit your brand and how to use it to best captivate your customers.