Brand owners have long used packaging to attract and engage consumers through various means, including design, iconic colors and shapes. Today’s managers are increasingly looking to use packages printed with 2-D bar codes and numeric text-message prompts to engage consumers through their cell phones. More...
Brand owners have long used packaging to attract and engage consumers through various means, including design, iconic colors and shapes. Today’s managers are increasingly looking to use packages printed with 2-D bar codes and numeric text-message prompts to engage consumers through their cell phones.
This is all part of a shift in marketing that has ramifications for branding, advertising, and packaging. As one manager told me, “Consumers don’t want to be broadcast to, they want to be engaged.”
The tipping point for this rapidly emerging market may have been reached earlier this month when a prominent group of more than 60 managers from Nestlé, Kraft, L’Oréal, Coca-Cola, Walmart, METRO Group, Carrefour and other companies gathered in Paris to discuss reaching cell-phone-equipped consumers. The group met with officials of standards organization GS1 to discuss building the future of mobile commerce together through “Extended Packaging.” The goal is to define how consumers can get product information on their mobile phones by scanning a bar code on product packaging.
Participants shared their experiences in anticipation of significant growth in 2010. For example, retailer Carrefour is launching a service in January to give consumers access to additional information about a selection of products through their mobile phones.
That’s only the tip of an iceberg of ongoing applications springing up worldwide around cell phones: Since mid-2008, Springer Mountain Farms in the U.S. has been using a combination of 2-D bar code and text message code to support a continuing series of product promotions hosted at the company’s mobile website. This month, a German firm launched iBARCODE for the iPhone, claimed as the world's first mobile price search engine with integrated bar code scanner.
Another hot technology, Augmented Reality (AR), is also getting prominent play this month as a further extension of this movement to actively engage consumers. At a fall tradeshow, I was shown a demo of packaging-based promotional efforts for the special effects-laden movie Avatar that opens this Friday. It involves Web cams and printed game pieces that permit consumers to interact with downloadable 3-D AR software on their computer. Suffice to say that it is cool stuff.
However you label it, Extended Packaging is a growing trend that adds another dimension to providing consumer-friendly packaging. It’s also one worth watching as packaging is mobilized as a seamless conduit for branding in an e-connected world.