We’ve heard a great deal about how the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to transform our lives and change the way business is done. With IoT, everyday objects have network connectivity which allows them to send and receive data and making these objects smart.
For brands, this poses an enormous opportunity to connect and engage with consumers in unprecedented ways. So what has this got to do with packaging?
Packaging can connect to the new world of content and deliver value. This increases engagement with the products we buy, creating brand advocacy in an authentic way. An intelligent pack helps brands build direct and meaningful relationships with its customers.
Using connected packages to get to know your consumers
Traditional media, such as television or magazine ads, no longer have the same attention-grabbing powers as before.
Therefore, marketers have to become increasingly inventive to find those ‘magic moments’ when consumers are receptive to brand engagement. Rather than relying on traditional ads to get a consumer’s attention, a better strategy is to align campaigns to existing consumer behaviour.
By giving products their own unique identity, brands can leverage technology to go directly to consumers in real-time and link activity to sales – all while also gathering valuable data on their consumers.
Drinks brand Charles Wells, for example, used codes on a cash-back promotion to launch a new product; not only was the launch successful, but through the codes they discovered their consumers were actually a decade younger than they thought. This is the kind of intelligence that can otherwise be expensive, if not entirely impossible, for brands to get from the supermarkets.
Connected packages can unlock subtle and surprising clues about a brand’s customers, and the advantages to this are huge.
By ‘pre-loading’ packs with codes which can be activated at any time, all brands have to do to run a promotion is to create a marketing campaign telling their target audience what they can win or what they can earn, where to find the codes on their packs, and how to use them to receive the promotional offer.
Making packs intelligent
So can you make packs intelligent and become true conduits in the brand relationship building exercise? There are three things needed:
1. Connectivity: Packaging has historically been able to communicate brand and product information to a consumer, but without giving the consumer a reason to connect.
The ‘internet of packaging’ invites a customer to opt in and communicate with the brand. Using a mobile, PC or tablet, consumers go to the brand’s website and enter a unique pack ID from the pack, providing an easy connectivity platform for consumers to participate with.
2. Two-way connectivity: Relationship building is all about providing an ability to give and take. Traditionally packs have been able to communicate one way.
By including a unique pack ID, they can start to have a two-way communication with their consumer. Any lasting relationship that is going to be successful needs to have the ability to give and to take.
3. Multiple reasons to interact with the pack: Traditionally, engagement has been at the point of purchase. Real relationship building needs multiple connections over a period of time, so packs need to give reason to interact with them for longer than just at the point of purchase. Marketing technology can make this a reality.
By combining unique IDs on packs, with giving the consumer a reason to engage, the pack may become a conduit to develop a strong relationship.
Making campaigns agile
Printed codes can also easily change the campaigns that the codes link to. This provides flexibility in running regional promotions and brands can even change the offer according to the time of day or the weather.
As soon as a code is registered, the brand knows about it and unique codes offer instant validation and verification compared with solutions such as receipt scanning. Brands that put codes on packs as part of the production process also don’t have to worry about the expense of printing special promotional packs.
In the internet of packaging, promotions can be run at any time. When codes are on every pack, the value-added promotions can become an integral part of a brand’s ecosystem. They are constantly available for marketing efforts, so instead of using them as a stop-start tactical sales booster, connected packages are a vital part of a brand’s marketing program all year round.
It’s this marriage of technology and simplicity that will help brands connect with consumers when and how they want. Winning brands will act now, building a strategic advantage that will see them far ahead of the competition.