AR most valuable for short-term packaging promotions

A consumer study indicates that despite consumer brands’ excitement around augmented reality for packaging, it may be more trouble than it’s worth.

Augmented reality (AR), which blends the real and virtual world together, has emerged as one of the most exciting technologies in the intelligent packaging space for several food and drink brands. However, despite the initial novelty of AR packaging, it is unlikely that a many brands will incorporate it into their products. That’s according to GlobalData, a data and analytics company, which gathered information on consumers’ interest in AR in its 2016 Q3 Survey.

Explains GlobalData, AR packaging is a marketing technique in which an interactive element is incorporated in packaging to stand out from competitors and drive sales. Yili Weikezi, a milk drink in China, recently introduced a unique take on packaging within the milk industry. Through a partnership with popular singer Han Lu, the packaging incorporates a digital voiceprint that consumers can scan with a smartphone to play audio messages, creating a more immersive experience.

The technology allows brands to deliver an immersive experience to consumers through a potentially low investment. The majority of the cost revolves around the initial app development and graphic designs. It does not entail additional materials, avoids any major package or production redesigns, and can be incorporated into any existing products, says GlobalData.

However, consumers will lose interest in AR packaging relatively quickly, particularly if it is readily available all of the time. It would need to be continually refreshed, and even then, the novelty will likely wear off. Similarly, if a lot of brands have AR packaging, the benefit of being able to stand out from the competition is reduced.

In addition, the effects of AR are not easily measured and can be quite subjective. According tothe survey, 41% of consumers globally said they are rarely/never influenced by “digitally advanced/smart” aspects of food products.

Ryan Choi, Consumer at GlobalData, says, “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.

“AR packaging works well for short-term promotional campaigns either for one brand or in partnership with others. Nevertheless, AR packaging offers brands a marketing tool, allowing for a highly innovative and immersive experience—and this will define the success of AR packaging campaigns during the short term they are used.”

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