We talk a lot about how packaging is one of the few tangible relationships a brand has with the consumer, as well as its importance to a brand’s narrative and loyalty. This recognition is based on the density of smartphone ownership, sales trends, and overall connectivity. During a time when everything is mobile (yet everything still has a barcode), augmented reality (AR) packaging, aka digital or smart packaging, is here. It’s the next frontier in experiential branding because it offers enormous untapped potential for retailers and brands to revolutionize packaging and the way they connect and engage with consumers today. At a time when marketing departments are spending more on digital advertising than ever before–and users are connecting to the web through mobile more than ever before–brands are sitting on an unrealized mobile marketing channel that’s been dormant in every supermarket, home, office, and shopping destination until recently. AR packaging has become a new way of expanding a brand’s narrative–to offer background information in clever ways and to offer consumers a way to attach to the brand emotionally. It provides another innovative dimension to packaging that gives consumers a surprising experience. A great example of smart packaging can be seen with Anheuser-Busch, which created a collectible Budweiser cup that lit up in response to crowd noise during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. There was a circuitry built into the beverage packaging that responded to environmental sound with LEDs that flashed, which visually riled up the crowd’s energy during games. Packaging Digest (Aug. 29, 2018) Another interesting, smart packaging design comes with “auto-replenish,” which was created by Amazon to support products that are regularly used and need regular refills or replacement. Products can use smart packaging to notify consumers when it is time to reorder so they can request more through their Dash Replenishment Services (DRS). Researcher Pan Demetrakakes explains, “So far, smart packaging has been thought of mostly in terms of connection to ‘passive’ online information, like recipes or discount offers. However, it has the capability to unlock the full interactive potential of the internet.” In light of such research, founder of London-based branding agency SharpEnd, Cameron Worth talks about the potential for smart packaging to integrate with the Internet of Things (IoT): “Traditionally, there has been no way to close the gap between the brand and consumer via the product, but now with the IoT, we can use smart packaging to bring brands directly into contact with individual consumers and use this opportunity to build brands post-purchase.” At Vivabox, we are actively building event and influencer kit experiences with AR and thinking about how trial and loyalty consumer journeys can be impacted with smart packaging. Although there is a practicality in association with the Internet and ordering, brands also have the opportunity to develop deeper brand connections through stories. For example, pasta sauce brand Francesco Rinaldi recently updated their brand with a smart packaging feature that enabled consumers to interact with brand spokesperson Mrs. Rinaldi. This digital approach allows consumers to pick up the jar from the shelf, scan it, and hear the story of the product directly from the brand “mascot.” Packaging Digest, Dec 13, 2018 These variations of smart packaging also offer brands some essential opportunities/thought starters: Imagine picking up a trial item, turning on your AR to hear from the perfumer who made the product waxing poetic about the formula and the ingredient origins Star Trek style in the aisle of the store or pop-up. Extend the available real estate for product messaging and promotional offers. Increase brand engagement especially via social sharing while this is still relatively new. Serve contextually relevant information at the point of purchase and consumption. It also drives better consumer data by offering real-time data analytics on a serialized basis, creates a better understanding of users, and helps deliver more measurable results and value-added benefits to customers. Vivabox can help you with better packaging and connect you with AR experiences to help take your brand story to the next level of digital packaging sophistication.