Today, thanks to connected packaging, consumer packaged goods companies have the power to initiate a two-way dialog with their customers.
But what exactly is connected packaging, and how does it enable two-way communication? Read on to get the full scoop.
Connected Packaging 101
Connected packaging is a technology available through the power of digital printing where each pouch is assigned a unique digital identity by way of a variable data QR code. It allows your brand to communicate personalized, real-time information to any consumer who scans the code with their phone.
The advantages to a brand can vary and grow over time from fundamental consumer engagement, to brand protection and even supply chain management & tracking.
Companies such as Courage Worldwide use connected packaging to communicate information about their products and the causes they support. They can also collect data on their customers, like location, demographics and purchase frequency.
But there is more to the story than that. Connected packaging truly is a way to create the continuous feedback loop that up till now has only been the domain of technology companies like Facebook and Amazon.
The Continuous Feedback Loop
In the software world there exists a concept called Continuous Deployment. Software is updated and released to customers on an ongoing basis.
Facebook has made this a part of their growth strategy. They create a new feature – for example, they’ll add a new reaction icon, like the ‘care’ icon – and release it to a limited subset of users.
Then, the software engineering team will monitor acceptance of the feature. If it seems like the feature is well received, they’ll release the feature to a wider audience, until eventually it becomes a standard part of Facebook.
The model has been adopted by most software-as-a-service companies, like Gmail or Mailchimp. Now, instead of releasing software updates on a quarterly basis, software evolves and morphs in real-time.
This only works because of the availability of real-time feedback from clients. If users don’t use the feature, the software engineering teams know immediately, and they kill it.
Additionally, there are in-software functions, like chatbots and messaging apps, that allow users to request features. If a request reaches critical mass, the product managers will instruct the software development team to create the new feature.
Another way for software development teams to know whether to improve a feature or release an update is through customer support tickets. If the support team sees a pattern in the types of complaints they receive, that can turn it into a new feature request that will get released three weeks later.
Continuous Feedback for CPG Companies
But how can CPG companies act like software companies? By leveraging connected packaging, CPG companies can facilitate a type of ongoing feedback that enables them to continuously improve their products.
This is achieved through two-way communication enabled by serialized QR codes. Just like the Facebook example above, the consumer experience can change as you learn about their evolving needs. Your packaging lives on.
4 Ways to Leverage Connected Packaging to Enable Two-Way Communication
We’ve identified four additional ways you can leverage two-way communication between your brand and consumers with connected packaging.
1. Market Research
The first and most immediate function is to locate where your customers are geographically. By providing some sort of incentive for your customers to scan the serialized QR code on your package, (such as validating that your product is authentic, or by delivering some valuable content), you can gain valuable geographical information that can inform your marketing efforts.
But that’s just the beginning. You can deliver a survey soliciting anything from product feedback to detailed demographic information. You can also request suggestions for product improvements.
The sky’s the limit.
2. Encouraging Repeat Purchases
There’s an old saying in sales and marketing: it’s cheaper to retain old customers than it is to obtain new ones. This is especially true for growing CPG companies. You’ve fought long and hard to obtain your initial customers. Now you need to do everything in your power to retain them.
How do you do that with connected packaging? By soliciting feedback from customers.
In addition to obtaining valuable customer data, you let customers know their voice counts. There is nothing more powerful than being heard.
Additionally, customers like to hear from you as well. You can deliver exclusive weekly or even daily content updates they can only get by purchasing your product and scanning your package.
By communicating to them on a regular basis, consumers will start to develop an affinity for your brand. Educational content is ideal for this scenario. For example, you could deliver YouTube videos with product use ideas.
By sharing educational content, your customers will become invested in your brand.
3. Building Community
More brands these days build communities around a purpose or mission. For example, you might manufacture a special supplement for long-distance runners. Or maybe you bake finger-licking baked vegan goods. Long-distance runners and vegans have very tight-knit, mission-based communities.
Your brand can become the de facto spokesperson or galvanizing force for these types of purpose-based communities.
For example, you could provide a link to join your Facebook group. Or you could share dates for a multi-city roadshow your brand might organize. Imagine a vegan cook-off or a runner’s fair coming to a town near you.
4. Enable Customer-to-Customer Marketing
Another way to leverage the power of two-way communications through connected packaging is by recruiting brand ambassadors. When a customer scans your QR code, provide them with a sign-up form so they can apply to be a brand ambassador.
You can also encourage photo sharing by holding a competition for the best photo of your customer with your product. Have them scan your package to get a special photo upload link. Have them scan the package the following week to see who the winners are
If you’ve ever wondered how you can create the continuous feedback loop that software companies enjoy, that technology is now available for your consumer brand.
Through connected packaging, and the diverse capabilities enabled by the serialized QR code, you can achieve the type of two-way communication that allows you to perform real-time market research, encourage repeat purchases, build an engaged community, and inspire customer-to-customer marketing.
To learn more about how you can leverage the power of connected packaging, visit our web page for more information.