Food packaging: The package as narrator
In the future, some food and beverage containers will hold not only their contents, but also a route into the digital world.
Traditionally, brands have viewed packaging as one of the most important opportunities for communicating to their customers. Now, new technology is giving brands the opportunity not to just communicate, but to interact with their customers through “smart” packages enabled by mobile technology.
Mobile phones can connect to a brand via a watermark on the packaging, allowing a beer label or box of crackers to send a specific message to consumers without any traditional advertising venues. To fulfill this vision, Digimarc is creating technology that transforms a food and beverage package from an inanimate, solitary object into something that can trigger a coupon, an offer or even video content. Digimarc, whose motto is “The barcode of everything,” aims to make barcodes more efficient, as well as invisible, to enable quick scanning and reading by mobile devices. The company sees multiple benefits of embedding this technology onto food and beverage packages. For instance, in the retail aisle, a shopper who points a smartphone at a package can be automatically engaged with a brand. “You can tell the customer everything you’d like to without adding more visual symbols,” explains Larry Logan, Digimarc chief marketing officer.
Content development is almost limitless, he adds, because a package can link to product information and reviews, how-to videos, sweepstakes, etc. The technology allows the code to be fixed to the package, and the content the code links to can be updated anytime using Digimarc’s asset manager.
“It doesn’t take someone in IT, programming or web development,” Logan says. “Even a marketing intern can redirect where the code points and change the brand experience in one minute.”
He gives the example of a box of cereal within the home being a source of “edutainment” for children as they eat breakfast. By using a phone to connect to the brand, they could get a different experience every day, potentially building brand loyalty and engagement. “The package can be the ongoing touchpoint for brand experiences well beyond the point of sale,” says Logan.
The technology also makes a package more integral to the marketing channel mix and provides a more consistent tag across all the campaigns and brand impressions. Moreover, Digimarc offers software tools to drop its technology into a retailer or brand’s app.