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Packaging covers or contains a product and helps to market and differentiate it. But the role of packaging is changing as it incorporates new technologies that make it interactive and dynamic. One of these technologies is augmented reality (AR).

How does augmented reality work?

In AR, the user experiences enhancements to the physical world around them. AR technology delivers these enhancements with computer-generated input. Essentially, it represents a meeting point for the digital and physical world.

The key to AR is responsiveness. The user can interact with digital technology that responds to their actions, superimposing audio, video and graphics onto the world as they see it.

This technology transforms every day, including things we take for granted, like product packaging.

There are three types of AR triggers you can apply to product packaging:

  1. Marker-based

  2. Markerless

  3. Location-based

Marker-based AR is also known as recognition-based or image recognition technology. It requires a specific marker to trigger the augmentation. These are distinct patterns on the packaging that cameras recognise and process. Typically, users would trigger this type of AR with a smartphone.

Markerless AR also relies on smartphone features but offers the user more control, allowing them to place the content where they choose. It eliminates the need to create physical triggers or object tracking systems.

Location-based AR ties augmentation to a specific place by reading a device’s data from its camera, GPS, digital compass or accelerometer. It pairs a dynamic location with points of interest to provide the user with relevant information.

 

What are the benefits of AR for product packaging?

AR offers major advantages for brands when applying it to product packaging:

  • It enhances the customer experience

  • It provides new entry points for communicating with customers

  • It improves brand loyalty

  • It creates a competitive advantage

For many consumers, the packaging is the first touchpoint of a product and AR can enhance this critical part of the customer experience. It also provides ready channels for communicating key messages.

Also, this communication can be two-way, engaging with customers and encouraging responses. This improves brand loyalty.

AR is a growing feature on product packaging but it’s by no means universal. Brands that adopt it sooner are more likely to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

 

How can you use AR strategically?

Packaging can drive sales. Using AR in long-term campaigns can build new dialogues with customers and build loyalty programmes. Examples include codes on the packaging that gives customers access to exclusive content such as games and competitions.

Using this type of engagement sequentially, brands can encourage consumers to collect a series of codes to experience ongoing rewards. AR on packaging can help target users with relevant messages, cross-selling other products or encouraging them to sign up for regular marketing communications.

Packaging can drive increased product consumption aided by AR. A make-up brand might offer access to tutorial content through a packaging code, for example, providing new videos week on week. This encourages overall consumption of the brand’s make-up range.

AR in packaging also works for lead generation. Collecting relevant data is central to this. AR can provide brands with a direct connection between the consumer and digital data-gathering. It allows brands to do this without being pushy with their sales message.

In this sense, AR is a portal for pull-marketing techniques that brands might otherwise struggle to apply to products.

Augmentation expands the marketing canvas beyond the physical packaging of the product. Designers and marketing strategists need no longer feel limited by the dimensions and available room for messages on the packaging itself.

They can devise a whole range of additional content that’s still connected to the product packaging but takes the consumer beyond it. You can add AR to food ingredient packaging, for example, and give consumers immediate access to videos exploring and explaining recipe ideas, for instance.

AR also means brands can maintain or update the relevancy of their packaging without requiring a physical redesign or reprint of the material. It helps future-proof product packaging.

Jenny Stanley, managing director at Appetite Creative