Augmented Reality by-passes physical space limitations
Packaging has long served as the ‘go to’ source of brand information and, on occasion, entertainment (think children’s cereal boxes). However, up until now, the creative possibilities of packaging have been limited by sheer surface area. The demands of brand mandatories and market regulations have literally left little space to play. Augmented Reality by-passes this physical hurdle and offers brands potentially infinite ways to create an immersive brand experience.
A number of brands are already doing great brand-building campaigns in this area. For instance, an Australian wine brand has developed labels that literally come alive when activated, telling the histories of the convicts who inspired the range. Another example is an eco-friendly brand that uses AR to inform consumers of the fact that each of their products is sustainably sourced.
AR-embedded packaging has, however, yet to be fully embraced by the mainstream. Cost and tech constraints have, until fairly recently, made this more the domain of niche brands and social media companies. However, with both media and retail environments becoming increasingly costly and cluttered environments, AR on pack is likely to become more attractive to FMCG as a means of storytelling, engagement,and information sharing – especially as the technology advances and becomes more accessible.
One word of caution. AR is not a worthwhile investment for every brand and shouldn’t be considered just as a novelty-for-novelty’s-sake. The ‘new toy’ factor is likely to wear out in the not too distant future and consumers expectations for such experiences are set high. However, for brands with a layered or multifaceted story to tell, and can envision AR as an integral part of a creative strategy rather than a simple tactic, there is no time like the present! First movers have the best chance to differentiate themselves in any new platform.
One thing is certain, passive consumption is becoming increasingly obsolete, and Gen Z will continue the Millennial demand for interactive and collaborative experiences. As the primary communication interface of any brand, packaging needs to adapt.