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Milking AR for Marketing

Eye-catching packaging helps products get noticed. Now they can go beyond attractive shapes and colors. Thanks to technology, they are also now capable of creating interactive experiences with sound and animation to engage consumers.

The Yili Industry Group in China produces Yili Weikezi, individually portioned flavored milk drinks. Han Lu, a popular singer, promotes the product in ads, as you can see in the video below:

Drawing his connection directly to store shelves, shoppers armed with a smartphone app can hear Han Lu talking to them from each package. When they scan his voiceprint, they can hear his audio greetings customized for each one of the four flavors. While that would get some attention, it wouldn’t draw active engagement beyond the scanning.

The app then launches an AR game. One see a galaxy of planets in AR that offers a choice of activities and customizations. The person who launches it can arrange the planets, hear the sounds assigned to the planets by tapping them, make their own planets, or record their own voiceprints. As with most apps activities, one can share the results of these activities with one’s connections.

The upside for brands is that they have a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and appeal to the interests of their customers. The costs of doing so are generally limited to that of the design and development for the app, but that scales very economically. The downside, though, is that it operates as a positional good. If others hop on this bandwagon, the novelty appeal would be lost. This is why Ryan Choi, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, warned, “If consumers do not want to engage this way, it may not be worth the hassle for brands as the costs could outweigh the benefits.” Nevertheless, he said, it can be effective “for short term promotional campaigns.”

Sure, anything that is repeated too often becomes commonplace, and does not generate as much excitement. But some consider such innovations worthwhile not because of the excitement they generate in customers so much as the exciting potential they hold for improving marketing. Alexandre Carvalho, director marketing services at Tetra Pak, told Packaging News that there is great potential in what he calls “the internet of packaging.” He saw great possibilities in making the package the point of interaction “with the internet of things”

Carvalho explained, as the brand gains “a direct link to the consumer” through the “digital package,” it opens up what “could be a huge opportunity to drive actions on distribution, targeted marketing, social media activities, increasing sales.” Thinking about his own product, he observed, that they “sell 180 billion packs a year – imagine how many customers do we touch every day.”

It’s something for marketers to think about: while cool AR experiences give products the “wow factor” now, it’s possible that the real value for them will not be so much in the attraction of consumers through novelty, but in getting them to interact in a way that provides insight for better planning.

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