When it comes to sales promotion, packaging is able to engage consumers in ways other marketing media can't touch: It has a unique ability to build bridges between the physical product and virtual experiences using on-pack, high-tech tools. Add some visually arresting package graphics to the technological bells and whistles, and promotional success is virtually (so to speak) assured.
Companies with products ranging from chips to lettuce are getting on board, combining new digital and mobile technologies with head-turning graphics to deliver the promotional goods.
Tic Tac shakes things up
The Tic Tac mints box is an essential component in the brand's interactive Shake it Up campaign, which launched in February. The campaign, which spans print, TV, outdoor advertising, social media and packaging, encourages the target market (18- to 35-year-olds) to shake up their lives.
Central to the campaign is the free Tic Tac Viewr mobile application, which enables smartphone-toting consumers to engage in "augmented reality experiences." For example, they can point their smartphone at a Tic Tac box to play the Tic Tac Tibby game; the box becomes the background for a 3D game in which the player tosses mints into a character's mouth.
In choosing to make the box part of the promotion, Tic Tac walked a fine line. "Packaging for us is so critical. It goes well beyond functional, because it is such a big part of our equity," says Noah Szporn, category marketing director for Tic Tac (www.tictacusa.com), a part of Ferrero U.S.A., Somerset, N.J.
So instead of changing the physical package, the brand used a mobile application. "Our target is 18 to 35, so we were trying to leverage a medium that's relevant for that target — finding a way to shake up the packaging through the mobile experience," Szporn explains.
He adds that the beauty of using augmented reality "is that you're able to create an experience with the packaging without actually having to change the packaging itself. It's a way to do it in a digital, experiential way without having to change the core equity of [the] product."
The brand owner has also used advertising media, including print ads and a billboard in New York's Times Square, to deliver augmented reality experiences as part of the Tic Tac Shake It Up campaign.
According to Szporn, the campaign will continue for the next two to five years as the key communication platform for the brand.
On-pack QR code
Even in the produce department, packaging is taking a high-tech turn to promote sales. When Tanimura & Antle Inc. (www.taproduce.com), Salinas, Calif., recently redesigned the packaging for its Field Fresh Wrapped Leaf Lettuce products, it incorporated a quick-response (QR) code on the back of the bag.
Consumers with a QR reader-enabled smartphone can scan the code in the store to link to a series of short videos showing how Tanimura & Antle packages its products in the field as soon as they are harvested. A bilingual version of the packaging is in development.
In addition to the QR code, the lettuce package design uses bold color coding to differentiate the leafy varieties: blue for romaine, orange for endive, purple for escarole, red for red leaf and green for green leaf.
Addressing the increasingly competitive retail environment for produce, the company "added the vibrant colors to [the packaging] so it really pops off the shelf with the consumer," says Diana McClean, director of marketing at Tanimura & Antle. "As there are more players in the field, there's going to be more competition for how we can differentiate our product from the next leafy green. We need to make sure our product is visible on the shelf."
After the consumer notices the colorful package and picks it up, the QR code creates an interactive experience in real time. "We could send them to a website, and of course we do, but the QR code is a new tool at our disposal," McClean says. Smartphone shoppers with QR-code readers can scan the code on the bag and "be served that video right there while they're standing in the store."