How brands can use augmented reality for product packaging

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 such technology is augmented reality (AR).

How does augmented reality work?

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

The key to AR is responsiveness. The user can interact with digital technology that responds to their actions, overlaying 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. Based on markers

  2. Without marker

  3. Location-based

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

Markerless AR also builds on smartphone functionality but gives the user more control, allowing them to place content wherever they want. It eliminates the need to create physical triggers or object tracking systems.

Location-based AR ties the boost to a specific location by reading a device’s data from its camera, GPS, digital compass, or accelerometer. It combines 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 benefits for brands when applied to product packaging:

  • It improves the customer experience

  • It offers new entry points to communicate with customers

  • It improves brand loyalty

  • It creates a competitive advantage

For many consumers, the packaging is the first point of contact with a product and augmented reality can enhance this essential part of the customer experience. It also provides ready channels for the communication of key messages.

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

Augmented reality is a growing feature of product packaging, but it’s by no means universal. Brands that adopt it earlier are more likely to gain a competitive advantage in the market.

How can you use AR strategically?

Packaging can boost sales. Using AR in long-term campaigns can establish new dialogues with customers and create loyalty programs. Examples include on-pack codes that allow customers to access exclusive content such as games and contests.

By using this type of engagement in a sequential fashion, brands can encourage consumers to collect a series of codes for ongoing rewards. Augmented reality on packaging can help target users with relevant messages, sell other products, or encourage them to sign up for regular marketing communications.

Packaging can lead to increased product consumption through AR. A makeup brand can offer access to tutorial content via a wrap code, for example, providing new videos week after week. This encourages the overall consumption of the brand’s makeup range.

AR in the package also works for lead generation. Collecting relevant data is essential in this regard. Augmented reality can provide brands with a direct link between consumer and digital data collection. This allows brands to do this without being overbearing with their sales message.

In that sense, AR is a portal for attraction 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 no longer need to feel limited by the dimensions and space available for messages on the packaging itself.

They can design a whole range of additional content that still ties into the product packaging but takes the consumer beyond. You can add augmented reality to food ingredient packaging, for example, and give consumers immediate access to videos exploring and explaining recipe ideas, for example.

AR also means that brands can maintain or update the relevance of their packaging without requiring physical redesign or reprinting of material. It contributes to the packaging of products to stand the test of time.

Jenny Stanley, Managing Director at Appetite Creative

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