Is Augmented Reality Packaging The Future?

Technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have already caught up with us in many aspects of our daily lives. The way we shop, communicate and enjoy entertainment have greatly evolved over the past decade. Nevertheless, the way we experience packaging has not changed that much. There are increasingly colourful and eye-catching designs, but the quintessence remained largely the same. This is about to change.

Peter Oberdorfer has conceptualised a way to make packaging come alive, quite literally. This futuristic sounding approach to packaging is an augmented reality (AR) that goes along with traditional packaging elements. AR is basically taking something in the real world and layering as well as enhancing this with computer generated effects. Peter, the president of Tactic, a studio specialising in the production of immersive experiences such as virtual reality apps, believes that this AR revolution will be more than a fad or gizmo. He goes on to state that: “It’s a new direct-to-consumer storytelling device where you can tailor your message and bind it directly to the product.”

Tactic under the guidance of Oberdorfer have already created an AR packaging solution, in collaboration with Treasury Wine Estates and J. Walter Thompson. The product line which was targeted was a wine selection that is titled “19 Crimes”. The outcome of this project is that the labels of the “19 Crimes” selection range feature a “criminal”. They casted actors to act out the scripted stories of the fictitious criminals. As the label was still traditional, one had to download an application which allowed the person on the label to become alive and showcase the featured story. “It told a story behind the brand and the characters associated with the brand,” Peter added. “It bound the product to the story.”

Peter goes on to state that the consumer experience was overall viewed as impressive, as the average consumer doesn’t associate these experiences with their phone but rather with the product itself. This because the AR kicks in to alter the reality of the product that the consumer can witness and it look like it is really happening on front of them. The next step would be imagining oneself walking into a grocery store and being able to be virtually transported to the local farm where the eggs or the milk that one buys stem form. Although this seems to be far-fetched, the AR/VR market is estimated to total roughly around 108 billion USD by 2021 as it enhances consumer experience like nothing else to date.

From a pure business standpoint, AR is successful because it interacts with people and makes consumers actively pick products, which leads to them bringing the products to the checkout lines. Oberdorfer stresses that following the 19 Crimes line AR labels release, that the Treasury Wine Estate experienced a 100% increase in sales and that their social media activity skyrocketed by over 2100%. They received roughly 300 million authentic impressions from the app.

Naturally, there are some guidelines that should be followed for the AR label technology to be successful. The stories and the experience must be relatively brief as they should leave the consumer to want more rather than making the consumer ditch the product before the AR experience ran its course. For example, the stories behind the 19 Crimes series only lasted between 15-20 seconds. Aside, the interaction and AR experience must be seamless, as if the quality is poor, this will lead to unsatisfied customers and the product as well as the AR experience will no longer be viewed as premium content.

In conclusion, this new packaging technology will not only allow for an entertaining experience but will also lend a helping hand in terms of an educational platform. This due to the fact that information such as nutritional facts or certain allergens or hazards can be pointed out in a more hands-on manner. In any case, this option will be far more exciting than traditional packaging, no matter what the underlying purpose is.