How 5 food marketing innovations are taking tech to the next level

From augmented and virtual reality to web and mobile marketing, food companies have increasingly embraced high-tech marketing innovations for their campaigns. Keeping up with consumers and the evolving tech landscape is important for marketers of all industries. But as certain food brands find themselves falling out of favor with health-conscious consumers, now is an important time for these companies to determine new ways to attract and engage consumers. Here are a few examples of notable high-tech marketing innovations in the food industry:

Jim Beam

If consumers ever wondered what the life of a whiskey shot was like before the whiskey ends its journey from bottle to brain, Jim Beam enables them to take a virtual tour of a distillery by traveling through the pipes and into a barrel from the perspective of a whiskey shot. After their boozey journey is done, consumers can remove the virtual reality headset, and a sample shot of whiskey is ready for them to knock back in real life.

Having a unique way to present product samples is always good for companies that believe that once consumers try a product, that product can sell itself — consumers just need to be given a good enough reason to try it in the first place. And let's face it, it has to be hard for a table covered in paper cups to compete with a virtual reality headset.

"There is quite a bit of crossover between our target demographic and technology early adopters, which is one of the reasons VR was a perfect fit," Rachel Harris, commercial marketing director at Beam Suntory, told Fortune.


Snacking and in-store technology collide with Mondelez International’s nationwide soccer-based, holographic campaign. In the grocery aisles this summer, consumers will find a holographic display of a rotating 3D soccer ball that promotes Ritz, Trident, and Chips Ahoy, the official snacks of U.S. Soccer, by featuring a famous player on the U.S. soccer team. The holographic display melds into Mondelez’s #PassTheLove campaign and is the company’s largest multi-brand marketing effort to date.

Food companies have attempted to find new ways to engage consumers directly in the grocery aisle, and apps and mobile coupons have filled that role to an extent. With an in-aisle display, however, Mondelez is bringing the engagement between consumer and product right out into the open, no mobile device required.

"Our goal is always to provide the most creative, innovative solutions for our clients," said Marty Garofalo, CEO of News America Marketing, the coupon publisher that worked with Mondelez on the campaign, in a news release. "We are delighted to generate some excitement in grocery store aisles by making Holographic Display available to our clients."


Patron also employs virtual reality headsets to market its product via the 360-degree experience, "The Art of Patron Virtual Reality Experience." This virtual tour brings together live-action footage with computer animation to give consumers a firsthand look at the Hacienda Patron distillery in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, without actually needing a passport to get there. Parts of the experience were filmed with several GoPro cameras to provide certain shots, including dropping users 30 feet into a field of sharp agave.

Consumers today crave more transparency and like to know where their food and beverages come from. With this type of virtual reality experience, Patron is marketing the product by marketing the process, bringing consumers directly into the distillery and teaching them how the tequila is made. 

"Increasingly, consumers want to know the origin and backstories of the products they consume," said Lee Applbaum, global chief marketing officer at Patron Spirits, according to Fortune. "For us, VR was the ideal way to bring people inside our doors at scale."


Doritos has taken mobile marketing to the next level by enabling consumers to not just scan a code on its packaging but the actual edible product itself — in this case, any chip in one of the brand’s new flavors. One aspect that separates this campaign from other companies’ mobile marketing efforts is that Doritos’ campaign is web-based rather than requiring an app, as an app could limit participation from consumers who don’t want to download one. 

"Try it once, and even if you never create a video or send it around to your friends, it's a brilliant way to do a sampling," said Myles Kleeger, chief revenue officer of mobile marketing automation platform Appboy, ClickZ reported. "You're forcing people to try the product and you're using content as the currency to encourage them. It's better than sampling because you're not giving [Doritos] away for free."


The company developed a mobile marketing campaign with Blippar to promote PepsiCo's sponsorship of the 2015 Super Bowl. Consumers could download the Blippar app, scan a can of Pepsi soda with their mobile device, and the app would activate, enabling them to pose in a virtual photo with an NFL player. PepsiCo released nearly 20 million cans that featured the marketing campaign. 

Similar to the Jim Beam and Doritos campaigns, PepsiCo also found a tech-savvy way to encourage consumers to sample its product, but this time consumers bought a single or pack of cans to access a virtual prize via the Blippar app. With this campaign, PepsiCo offered an incentive to buy that went beyond simple enjoyment of the product itself.

Whether a flashy marketing campaign will be enough to lure consumers back to some brands is debatable, but it’s hard to argue that these brands aren’t at least catching consumers’ attention.

Filed Under: Marketing
Top image credit: Flickr: Nan Palmero