As I stroll down the supermarket aisles on a Sunday morning, recovering from jet lag, well why else would I be strolling down the aisles on a Sunday morning, I wonder what’s new. I don’t mean which new brand of tonic to go with my vast collection of new gins, or which new bottle shape I’ll see, but what is really new. What’s driving me to buy something other than product, brand, shape, colour, taste or price? Well, it turns out that there are some really interesting things happening. If you’re a Facebook fan, you may recall Mark Zuckerberg talking about putting Augmented Reality at the forefront of their development. Amazon have said the same thing. So what is Augmented Reality, or AR as those “in the know” say, and how does it relate to Packaging? Augmented reality

Well the closest you’ve gotten to AR in the past was that pesky Pokémon game where folks were blindly walking down the street like zombies chasing these little critters that appeared on the screen. And therein lies the key to the integration of brands, product development, smartphones and Augmented Reality.

The AR technology now allows a brand logo to be used as a ‘trigger’. Scan the phone across the logo of your favourite gin (other spirits are available) or another such snack or product, and up pops, well, whatever you want. So, for example, scan that gin logo, and suddenly your phone opens up with an interview with the Master Distiller relating the brand story and the search worldwide for the perfect botanicals to infuse in the still. Or perhaps you’re taken on a little tour of the distillery. Imagine it – you can almost smell the drink itself. Which is kind of the point, because lurking there in the corner of the screen, is the ever ubiquitous ‘buy now’ button. But herein also lies the magic. We’ve also seen clever marketing but wondered how the return on investment can be truly calculated. The clever little app can tell you how many consumers downloaded it, free via the app store by the way, how many actually used it, and how many purchased the product directly via the app. Magic indeed.

One of the leading lights in this area is ooh-AR. I chatted with one of their Directors Andy Jackson and asked him what all this AR malarkey was really about. “ooh-AR is unlocking the physical power of packaging both in FMCG retail and e-commerce”, he said. Interesting, methinks, very interesting indeed. Having explained the inner workings of the technology, which was far beyond my small Pooh bear-like brain, Andy continued, “We're bringing packaging to life to attract buyers, enhance customers' experience of a product, streamline supply chains and boost efficiency”. My mind began to work overtime with the endless possibilities, but Andy tells me others have raced their minds even faster and they’re now implementing an AR development with Amazon on their e-commerce packs.

And then it struck me, this brings a whole new dimension to shopping on your phone. Now we will actually be shopping with, rather than on, our phones.

Come and listen to the story about AR, and its endless possibilities, delivered by Andy himself, at Pro2Pac 2019, at our Outside the Box speaker seminars.

Andy goes on to tell me that, like Mr Zuckerberg, and his counterparts at Amazon, he thinks this is the future. And the future is here and now and happening as we speak on brands in the high street. He carried on, “Linking real world packaging to the digital space using augmented reality is the way forward, and packs without AR content will soon be a thing of the past.”

Powerful words. Powerful Technology.

To answer all your food & drink processing, packaging and labelling questions, register to attend Pro2Pac here.

Robert Herridge, Managing Director, Packology Ltd.