We are on the cusp of transformation in the way that packaging engages consumers. Interactive packaging is advancing with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and pilot projects are underway in a variety of industries as companies vie to capitalize on the first mover advantage.
Today we are living in an on-demand culture as we interact with technology that surrounds our everyday life—pads, pods, phones, computers, homes, autos appliances, lighting and more. The smart phone, enabled with NFC, is growing at a rapid rate and by 2016 is estimated to capture over 50% of the market. As market penetration increases, NFC will be the driver of opportunities such as the mobile wallet and interactive packaging beyond QR Codes.
Consumer goods and technology companies, like Avery Dennison, are aggregating the supply chain partners necessary to advance interactive packaging. Currently pilot project are running in numerous industries, ranging from beverages to pharmaceuticals. The leading companies involved are learning, adapting, re-engineering and re-testing to evaluate the full potential of the technology and the opportunity to build relationships and unique interactions with customers. According to Jay Gouliard, vice president of innovation at Avery Dennison,
“Interactivity between the package and the consumer is the next avenue to build the romance between your brands and your customers”.
If you want to join the upcoming conversation, there is a web chat hosted by Avery Dennison and The Dieline on May 2nd at 1:00 EST. You can register here: http://bit.ly/interactivepackaging
An important question for businesses is how will you capitalize on this technology when it becomes available? Many of the leaders I have talked to view it as just another way to deliver a price incentive or coupon between the aisle and the register. If that is your view, think again. NFC will create a big opportunity to connect to your customer in the store and in the home.
Here are a few ideas to stir your thinking:
1. Product information for health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, peanut and gluten allergies or weight loss.
2. Better Product Labeling for older eyes is an opportunity through NFC ; it may also offer a new level of communication to satisfy FDA label requirements to facilitate Rx- to –OTC switches
3. New ideas for recipes or how to tips, matching wine and food, or asking an expert opinion in many categories either before or after product purchase
4. Entertainment is a wide open opportunity with NFC, ranging from a brand engaging customers with a great joke (my favorite idea!), to offering suggestions on how to have fun with the product
5. Gaming could involve participation in a challenge or adventure (whether in the store or out in the world) where tapping with your phone is part of the activity
6. New Voices of real people or communities with something to say can be connected to customers –Mom bloggers speak out on baby food perhaps?
7. Track & Trace counterfeit products or diverted product outside of the intended market
As the number of interaction opportunities expand, it becomes critical to develop a unified brand story across the various devices and technologies, rather than simply creating “pieces” of interaction. This shift represents a need for brands to develop content that engages customers, not just creative communication that will be pushed to them. It challenges the basic brief process to open up big enough territories for larger brand stories to be created.
I encourage you to pull out the current brand brief and ask yourself whether the insights or elements on it are leading to big, chunky stories that customers can engage in across many touch points. If you have one that does I would love you to send it to me. The briefs I come in contact with are using the same structure they did before the explosion of technology. Most brands have simply created a digital brief as a separate document from the communication/TV brief.
Interactive packaging will push this issue up another notch. NFC technology will make interactions simpler and faster than QR Codes. The time has come to rethink the elements of a strong brief if you want to build a relationship with customers to drive your business. Interactive packaging will be another big opportunity to engage with them, but you will have to have strong story content and a unified strategy to leverage it rather than chase it.
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Donna Sturgess is the President and Co-founder of Buyology Inc and former Global Head of Innovation for GlaxoSmithKline. She is also Executive in Residence at Carnegie Mellon University. Her latest book is Eyeballs Out: How To Step Into Another World, Discover New Ideas, and Make Your Business Thrive. Follow on Twitter: @donnasturgess