Connected packaging lets you enrich your product experience digitally using a smartphone app, e.g. Its abilities can transform more physical products and surfaces into tactical and strategic interactive sales and branding tools. But how do you make sure it’s useful and not just a gimmick? How do you get attention in the first place?

First, your product must pop on the shelves and in the daily flow. Great packaging design is always the first priority, especially if we acknowledge that your product is your brand, and your brand is your product.

These six brands tailored an experience to the situation, providing useful and entertaining content before, during and after purchase/use. And because the content is digital, you can update it and keep it relevant for consumers.

1. Coca-Cola: Grab a Coke and Enjoy a Concert


Coke packaging
Courtesy of EVERLAND


As part of Coca-Cola’s newly launched limited edition “Starlight,” the soft drink brand lets people enjoy a concert with pop star Ava Max. Users simply had to scan the can/bottle to watch the performance, and they would instantly get front row seats to a branded experience.

This AR experience reflects Coca-Cola’s brand platform, “Real Magic”. It’s kind of like magic seeing a mini-concert take place in your living room. And by collaborating with an aspiring singer, Coca-Cola can create consumer-relevant content.

2. Johnny Walker: Just the Right Cocktail


Spirts packaging
Courtesy of EVERLAND


The ability to deliver relevant content is crucial for creating a great product experience. Diageo’s limited edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label "smart bottle" allowed the brand to tailor the experience based on consumption. A smartphone app communicated with an NFC unit on the bottle. So, when pouring a glass, a relevant notification was sent through the app, containing targeted offers, cocktail recipes or brand updates.

3. Bottled Slotmachine from Aqua d’Or


Water packaging
Courtesy of EVERLAND


Danish water brand Aqua d’Or wanted to create something special to engage young consumers and stand out during Christmas. And what’s more exciting than a Christmas competition?

Building on its identity design work, Everland contributed to the augmented reality experience that expands the brand universe and significantly increases consumer interaction with the products through gamification. Through a dedicated smartphone app and AR technology developed by CCL Connected Packaging, consumers could turn their Aqua d’Or Sparkles into a slot machine and enter the Christmas competition.

4. Tell Me the Stories of 19 Crimes


Interactive packaging
Courtesy of EVERLAND


Connected packaging also has excellent potential for amplifying your storytelling. Australian wine producer 19 Crimes has made great use of this. By scanning the label, you get an augmented reality experience where the story behind each of the 19 crimes is told — a feature that catches your attention at the shelves and enriches the product experience when you later enjoy a glass of wine at the dinner table.

5. Kellogg’s Helps the Sight-Impaired


packaging for disabled
Courtesy of EVERLAND


Shopping is tricky when you can’t see what you’re getting. Kellogg’s UK incorporates NaviLens technology on all of its packaging, allowing a smartphone to detect and playback labelling and allergen, nutritional and recycling information to the user. Users can scan the area, within three meters, for a possible code. The companion app provides non-visual assistance, such as vibrations, to locate the code. This implementation also plays nicely into a bigger purpose of making life easier for more people, tapping into an existing pattern and tool and just expanding into the use of new technology.

6. Who’s Behind the Smile, Lay’s?


Lay’s face
Courtesy of EVERLAND


World-renowned potato chips brand Lay’s relaunched its Smiles campaign in September 2020. It was the fifth iteration of the competition, focusing even more on building community. For this campaign, the company featured the smiles of individuals who helped the community during the pandemic. When you scanned the QR code on the packaging, you could learn more about the person behind the smile featured on each bag.

Now, How to Stay On-Brand?

Now, by activating and expanding your packaging digitally, you give your brand more opportunities to engage your target audience. But with great packaging power comes great responsibility. Everything you do needs to stem from the brand as well as strengthen it. So, before you unleash your creativity, we urge you to consider these three things.

  1. Don’t Turn It Into a Gimmick: We see many consumers willing to pay for a great experience. Connected packaging gives you plenty of opportunities to differentiate further on the shelves. But beware that it doesn’t turn into a simple gimmick that comes in the way of actual sales. Consider what customers might ask in the store before purchasing. If you provide an easy and fast answer, you can convince them to buy your product.
  2. Never Stop Selling: Although consumers have already purchased your product, they need new confirmation to secure a great experience or even enrich it. It’s an obvious way to unfold your brand’s storytelling, show new ways to use the product or explain how to optimise use.
  3. Keep It Simple: Be ruthless in your prioritization of what is need-to-know and what is nice-to-know. And consider the context of usage. When in doubt, consider whether the content helps drive sales or creates emotions that build brand preference (long term). Create value; never noise. Otherwise, you are actively undermining your brand value.

Next Frontier of Packaging

It’ll be exciting to see what’s next in the world of connected packaging. Understanding how your brand operates in the physical and digital sphere is crucial. Especially, as more and more brands will enter the metaverse. 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.