Connected Packaging Promises Unprecedented Consumer Engagement
Consumers today are better informed and more selective about the products they purchase than ever before. Armed with smartphones and social media, shoppers can research products on-the-go and select items that best fit their needs.
According to a recent RichRelevance study, nearly three-quarters of all consumers, and 84 percent of millennials, use their mobile phones while shopping in a physical store. And a recent Label Insight study found that consumers want more than just the required information on a product’s label, and they’ll be loyal to brands that provide more detailed insights. The problem is that a quick Google search or product scan often turns up information from multiple, inconsistent sources, making it difficult for consumers to ascertain whether a product is right for them.
The retail and consumer products industries’ most forward-thinking leaders know that enhancing consumer engagement is key to building long-term loyalty and sales success. Consumers’ propensity for seeking product information through digital channels provides an opportunity for brands to provide all the information consumers want up front.
Interactive product packaging is a new concept that companies are exploring as a way to engage consumers. Digital information embedded and accessible on packaging can enable companies to differentiate their brands from the competition and deliver on consumer demand for a convenient way to immediately access the information they want.
The information standards organization GS1 US proposes to bridge the gap between digital and physical marketplaces. Enabled packages include a DWCode, a nearly invisible digital watermark offered in collaboration with Digimarc Corporation that permits trading partners to communicate brand-authorized product information to consumers — e.g., special offers, coupons, detailed product attributes, instructional videos, recipes, rich media and additional shopping assistance.
By quickly scanning the package with their smartphones, shoppers will be able to access unprecedented levels of product information. Even after the purchase, consumers can scan products from home and continue to receive information and coupons, enhancing long-term engagement between buyers and sellers.
Making sure that customers have a positive purchasing experience is critical in the age of social media, where a quick comment has the potential to reach thousands of followers. According to a 2016 survey by BrightLocal, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Interactive packaging that gives consumers complete and accurate product information can help ensure satisfaction, encouraging positive reviews and building a brand’s reputation.
Wegmans, a regional grocery retailer with 92 stores, has already begun putting this technology to use, enabling GS1 US Mobile Scan for its private-label products. In addition to improved checkout, engaging with consumers in-store, and in its Menu magazine, Wegmans is expecting to see greater efficiencies as it ramps up the number of its enabled products and begins to include national brands in the effort. Such innovative solutions have the potential to change the way people shop and ensure more direct communication of product details between manufacturer and consumer.
Connected packaging can also help provide retail associates with accurate and complete product information to help make a sale. For example, a smartphone scan could provide the associate with access to information that helps them explain the product and its use, as well as answer shoppers’ questions about detailed specifications like memory, RAM, ports and other details that may not be so easily found on the physical package.
Connected packaging is a potential game changer because of its ability to inform and engage consumers where they are. Today’s tech-savvy, highly informed shoppers are challenging retailers and manufacturers to communicate product information with more clarity and speed. Anticipating the needs of consumers puts brands ahead of the curve when it comes to customer satisfaction. Taking an innovative, proactive approach to disseminating product information to consumers will create new opportunities for retailers to foster customer trust and loyalty.
Rich Richardson is vice president of emerging capabilities and industries for GS1 US, and has more than 30 years of technology experience.