The world is changing, and our packaging is evolving with it. The way consumers experience their retail journey has changed, predominantly due to digital transformation and adoption which continues to reshape the world around us which has been accelerated due to the pandemic. The new generations of digital natives want to interact and learn from their retail experiences; as a result, it is up to brands to adapt and meet the demands of their new customers. Brands need to find new ways to engage with customers and one such way is through the use of new immersive technologies as part of a connected packaging experience to create deeper, more meaningful connections.
How might brands go about enacting the change? Through transforming a product’s packaging from a purely physical touch point into an owned media asset facilitating brand-to-consumer engagement through an individual’s smartphones. Focusing on the experience itself, technologies such as AR provides consumers with:
- An immersive and creative augmented reality (AR) experience delivering anything from bespoke customer care by using the packaging as a two way communication channel
- Personalised experiences that get to the heart of an individual’s need
- Content activation to unlock informative content including education on use
- Creating a gateway to relevant experiences and services
Brands themselves are seeing the worth in connected packaging as 46.5% more companies compared to last year now plan to use this technology in the coming year. As well as this, 81% of businesses have incorporated connected experiences into their marketing plans and 92% of businesses consider it will be increasingly important to the packaging industry over the next 12 months. This is reflected in the 88% of businesses planning to increase their overall investment in digital marketing spend, with the aim of incorporating connected experiences.
There are a number of reasons why a brand should choose to connect their packaging; the main reasons for doing so are:
· Connect to a customer loyalty programme for offers and awards,
· Create a connection to creative experiences
· The ability to get product information in a simple way
· Connect to a customer services team
Connected packaging also works as a source of data. Tracking interaction and engagement metrics as well as collecting 1st party data as part of a value exchange for example age, gender, geography, concentration and preferences, behaviours and spending habits. This then allows the brand to further enhance the user’s experience by creating bespoke and immersive experiences that will build brand loyalty.
Connected packaging works best when used as a portal into the brand channels creating an engaging and continuously refreshing brand story. This connected customer experience helps brands build customer loyalty ensuring a fully connected journey for the customer. Giving customers access to loyalty programs provides the brand with a competitive advantage as the customer experience is key in the current retail space. For a brand to stay relevant among its customers, it is vital that they begin to tap into this technology.
Additionally, the use of this technology allows businesses to offer consumers a fully personalised experience. Brands can enhance the customer’s experience by using AR technology, to immerse the consumer into the experience fully.
Consumer behaviours in terms of buying are changing and there is more demand when it comes to the sustainability of a product, its convenience and the value it provides consumers. Transparency is a consumer demand that is prevalent in today’s society, particularly amongst the younger demographics. The use of connected packaging is a way that brands can be transparent with their customers. Through the use of connected packaging technology, brands can demonstrate the life cycle of a product and its packaging. Brands can leverage this to show the benefits of their products and clearly communicate the impacts that a certain product may have on the environment. The interactive experience can provide additional information such as the amount of carbon that a product produces and appropriate ways of recycling a product when finished. Through immersive technology, consumers will be able to witness supply chains in action and visually explore the work involved in developing their favourite products.
While the above may only consider connected packaging an option for the retail sector, the future of this technology reaches far beyond. As the technology develops so will its growth into other unexpected industries. Already, sectors such as consumer packaged goods, electrical goods, healthcare, pharmaceuticals as well as beauty and cosmetics are all leveraging the possibilities of connected packaging to varying degrees.
As the digital transformation of many sectors continues to grow exponentially, it is vital that brands engage with immersive technology to stay ahead of the game. Retail is a competitive space, and it is only the brands who continue to be on the cutting edge of advancements that will continue to thrive. The use of connected packaging, enabling brands to create a more meaningful and personal relationship with each of its customers, helps ensure a once-off customer transitions to a repeat buyer, and beats out the competition.
Understanding how your brand operates in the physical and digital sphere is crucial. In the coming years, as more brands enter the Metaverse and immersive experiences become a normal expectation for consumers and their packaged goods, it’s exciting to see what’s next in the world of connected packaging. No matter how digital you choose to be, you should start looking at your brand essence to make any interaction with your product meaningful. After all, your product is your brand, and your brand is your product.