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The Ultimate Guide To Connected Packaging

July 28, 2020

Today's consumer product packaging is being transformed by a mixture of sophisticated and exciting technology's. When you combine technology with product packaging design, you get what is called Connected Packaging. But what lies within connected packaging and how will it transform the way in which brands engage customers?

In this Ultimate Guide to Connected Packaging, we’ll look at the different aspects that make up connected packaging from Augmented Reality to Analytics and everything in-between.

What Is Connected Packaging?

Connected packaging is the activation and integration of a variety of technologies within your product packaging design to enable an enhanced user-experience, increase product engagement and to provide a greater level of consumer behaviour analysis.

Connected packaging has great relevance in many consumer goods sectors, however some of the most prominent are:

  • Health & beauty products
  • Food and beverage
  • Household cleaning products
  • Toiletries

Augmented Reality in Connected Packaging

One of the most exciting technology's within connected packaging is Augmented Reality. Companies can display product information, brand stories or even a personal message from the CEO, directly activated from the packaging itself. 

The crucial element that makes AR within connected packaging genuinely useful, is the introduction of Web-based Augmented Reality. Using Web AR, consumers don’t need to spend time downloading apps to engage with brand experiences, which enables a seamless user experience and drastically increases the engagement rate with products that feature the technology.

A great example of incorporating Web AR into product packaging is this experience created by Aircards for popular chip brand The Good Crisp Company. The product packaging experience is activated with any standard mobile device, and viewed with the native mobile camera with no app required. Consumers are greeted with a brilliant animated Santa Clause and are given a positive brand message:

QR Codes Within Packaging

QR codes are used to direct consumers to URLs of your choice. Within connected packaging, they’re a great way to activate packaging experiences directly from the product itself. Contrary to popular belief, QR codes can customised to your brand, thus can be drastically improved aesthetically when compared with the standard QR styles you’re used to seeing. 

We often incorporate Augmented Reality activation instructions when using QR codes. Here’s an example created for popular fitness clothing brand, Gymshark:

gymshark ar experience qr code
Note: this QR code has been deactivated, and is for demonstration purposes only. This will not scan.

As you can see, the activation instructions are displayed within the QR code box. This gives a visual aid to consumers that there is something they can interact with, as well as helping to educate users on how they should go about initiating the experience. 

Augmented Reality and QR code activation has been proven to increase engagement in print marketing when compared to traditional, static print marketing. If you’re looking to increase product engagement, this should be considered for your next product design iterations.

In terms of compatibility, iOS devices come with the QR code scanning functionality built into the devices native camera, while some Android phones also feature this, others require the QR code scanner manually turned on in settings first. Due to this reason, it's important to always display a shortened URL with your activation instructions so that if consumers run into trouble, they can manually access the URL instead. Covering all bases is always best.

Showcase Brand Values & Stories 

Combining storytelling and connected packaging helps to drive a much deeper connection between brand and consumer. It’s possible to embed video content within product packaging, and using AR image tracking, track the video content to the product labelling, thus turning the product into its own video player. 

This type of Web AR image tracked experience is so much more than just linking to a YouTube video, this is moulding video content around the packaging creating a truly unique and 'wow factor' experience. It’s also a great way of making use of existing brand content, without the need to produce new content which is specific to the experience. 

This example from Jackson Hogg is a great example of the Web AR image tracking in-action. 

As you can see, Jackson Hogg utilized a Call-to-Action button within their experience to drive traffic to the destination of their choice. Utilizing CTA’s within connected packaging is a great way to deliver measurable campaign ROI’s, and something we’ll dive deeper into below.

Alongside Image Tracking, technologies like 4K-AR are now available within connected packaging. 4K-AR is the ability to use 4K quality content within Web-based Augmented Reality experiences. Utilizing this technology enables the delivery of ultra-high definition content within product packaging AR experiences. Unique to Aircards, 4K-AR is a proprietary technology and is only available to Aircards clients.

AR Games Within Packaging

Augmented Reality mini-games are great tools to engage users with creative challenges, as well as driving brand awareness and further sales through incentivisation. Games can be tailored to the brand theme and message, for example, a food delivery company could provide an AR game which is activated from the QR code on the delivery bag. Once activated, users could be given a 3D basketball hoop and ball augmented into their own environment, with the challenge of making 3 hoops in a row to win a discount off their next order.

Associating share buttons within connected packaging experiences like this drastically increases the potential reach of the campaign, which allows brands to not only drive repeat purchases, but also new customer acquisition. 

Connected Packaging Analytics

Connected packaging analytics
Product packaging analytics

Connected packaging also means creating a digital channel where one previously didn’t exist. One of the key benefits of this, is that it gives you the opportunity to make use of performance analytic tracking.

Spatial Analytics is an advanced analytics feature from Aircards. Available within client campaigns, it allows brands to understand the physical touch points of exploration and interaction of your connected packaging experiences. This advanced analytics feature lends itself to more complex Web AR experiences to enable the performance tracking analysis of the campaign.

Combining features like Spatial Analytics with more standard web analytics metrics gives you the power to monitor customer behaviour both in and outside of the Web AR experience, generating a deep understanding of campaign performance.

Using performance analytics, The Motley Fool were able to monitor engagement and click through rates from their Augmented Reality direct mail campaign. As with most of the Web AR campaigns we’ve seen, they boasted an engagement rate of 40%, a dwell time within their experience of over 2 minutes and 2.08x experience views per user which means consumers came back multiple times to consume the brand content. This performance is outstanding when compared to more traditional forms of marketing. 

Another great example of Augmented Reality analytics is from the Pot Noodle Alternative Careers Fair which was used to give students the ability to attend a previously cancelled careers fair live event. Using Web AR instead, meant that Pot Noodle saw a 500% increase in job applications when compared with the previous years performance.

Using Connected Packaging For Consumer Feedback

consumer feedback within packaging connected
Consumer feedback

Connected packaging gives brands the ability to launch interactive quizzes and questionnaires digitally integrated into packaging. Due to Web AR’s typical high engagement rates, this is a great way to get consumers to provide feedback in a non-intrusive and interesting way.

Consumer feedback provided with Web AR experiences can be collected and collated to provide a clear picture of things like the attitudes towards the brand or opinions on products.

Connected Packaging & Social Sharing

connected packaging and social sharing
Social sharing buttons

A great way to increase brand awareness is through the encouragement of UGC (user generated content). As an example, if you give consumers a way to record their experience or reaction to an Augmented Reality experience embedded within the product packaging design, you enable the sharing of your brand experience to social media.

Alongside in-experience screenshots and video recording, you could also use social sharing buttons which allows users to share the AR experience URL with friends and family. Essentially driving free brand awareness by delivering engaging and shareable product packaging experiences. 

Aircards and Connected Packaging

What makes Aircards different, is our laser focus on creating connect packaging experiences that perform. Both from the eyes of the consumers as well as the brand. Product packaging activations should be seamless, without jolting the user with prompts to download an app. They should also be developed in such a way that drives valuable actions and ROI for your brand.  

Aircards combine industry-leading Web AR developers with an experienced team of marketers to deliver a truly unique end-to-end service for the development and deployment of cutting edge Web AR experiences.

Technologies like 4K-AR and spatial analytics are proprietary to Aircards, and access to these are only available by working directly with us. We’ve worked with some of the world’s biggest brands and have proven results You can view a range of recent AR case studies or get in touch with our friendly team to talk about how you can go about integrating connected packaging into your business.