Media Media Planning and Buying Packaging Design

More marketers are now seeing connected packaging as an untapped media channel


By John McCarthy | Media editor

February 28, 2023 | 5 min read

A new report by Appetite Creative claims 88% of respondents are planning a connected packaging campaign this year. We find out why.

Connected packaging

Exploring the rising demand for connected packaging

The second annual connected packaging study from Appetite Creative polled 968 marketing execs at the start of 2023 and found a sharp rise in practitioners willing to invest in the medium. 88% of respondents say they are planning a connected packaging campaign this year and 92% agree that it is increasingly important. Last year, only 59% planned such a campaign and only 85% considered it important.

Jenny Stanley, managing director at Appetite Creative, tells The Drum: “Rather than just this radical burst of campaigns, brands are starting to want a QR code present all the time. We are really moving to packaging as a media channel.”

She points to Coca-Cola, which she says is keen to have a QR code present on all of its packaging. Its current tie-up with the Avengers is an example of a brand “giving the consumer something special, something unique,” she says. In return, the brand can receive insights and first-party data such as an email address. It’s all part of its Marvel Multiverse tie-in.

But some brands remain hesitant to embrace the medium. 48% of respondents claim their business isn’t prepared to embrace the medium. 20% blame price and 11% complexity.

Stanley believes the main hurdle is “around education, in terms of how to implement connected packaged“. “You need to identify what you want to do, what benefits you can get from it and how you implement it.”

The report indicated that 88% of respondents are keen to increase spend in the space, up from 59% in 2022. Some 44% can see packaging as the main way they engage with customers, while 38% believe it drives customer loyalty and 36% are keen to experiment with gamification.

57% of marketers using gamification adopted traditional mobile games, a third (31%) used AR games and 11% shared a quiz. Almost half (48%) used gamification to promote a new product or drive sales, 17% for data collection and 15% to improve brand recognition.

Stanley points to some work her agency did with Starbucks to gamify a voucher scheme to offer a discount, a fun game and, for the brand, vital insights that help connect it with shoppers.

Another example she gives is a game for a juice company where a QR code led players to a game in-mobile where they were discouraged from picking up collectible (added) sugar, hitting home the brand as the healthy option.

Other brands are opting for AR experiences, such as Sprite with its ’Live from the Label’ AR gigs, while others will direct users to Snap using a Snapcode, unlocking a game or product Try-On Lens from packaging or point of sale (luxury items and cosmetics are common).

Another variable is increasing pressure on brands to introduce sustainable packaging. The tech can help brands communicate some of the changes they are introducing without covering the packaging in lines of text or compromising the visual identity. And in some categories, the tech is enabling consumers to verify their product authenticity (an issue apparently plaguing baby food in particular).

Some clients are advancing beyond the experimentation stage now, says Stanley. “They’ve been running these campaigns for four years, getting great results and repeating. Now they want to do things that are more sophisticated and sometimes tie it into loyalty card type programs as well as always-on campaigns.”

Media Media Planning and Buying Packaging Design

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