- Black Red Ale's new beer label sports smart packaging that uses advanced augmented reality facial recognition to deliver dynamic scenarios in response to user's facial expressions, allowing consumers to have interactive conversations with a "talking" skull on the bottle, according to Food Ingredients First.
- The bottle's neck also includes a Near Field Communication smart label, which provides a proof of purchase solution and recognizes when the product has been opened to provide buyers with different messages.
- Multi-Color Corporation (MCC) and Talkin' Things, the first Internet of Things (IoT) packaging platform providers, combined Augmented Reality (AR) and Near Field Communication (NFC) to create the interactive packaging.
Although combined use of Near Field Communication (NFC) and augmented reality is reported to be a first for food and beverage brands, the use of NFC is not.
NFC is a set of communication protocols that enables two electronic devices, one of which is often a portable smartphone, to establish communication. Augmented reality is the interactive, "real-world" experience that the technology produces and consumers encounter. When a customer scans the smart label with a mobile app, the skull printed on the label will begin an interactive dialogue based on a facial recognition feature that will recognize if a customer is happy or sad. Various augmented reality scenarios are launched based on a consumer's answers to the skull's question to create an ongoing conversation.
Conversation with customers is a growing trend among food and beverage companies as they try to distance themselves from the pack. From purpose-driven marketing to crowdsourcing R&D, companies are getting creative in their efforts to get ahead. Artificial intelligence is the most recent manifestation.
NFC and AR actively collect information about consumers interaction with a product which makes this technology a real-time data mine.
Taking this path may serve to humanize a brand by recognizing customer preferences based on stored data and recommending products as one walks down the aisle, smartphone in hand.
However, in the beer sector, consumers may be more likely to express emotions to a brewer they see as human-sized rather than a mega-conglomerate where they are unsure of who is receiving the data they provide.
Adding NFC and AR into the mix seems like a logical next step as tech evolves in the food sector. It is being readily adopted in the healthcare sector as well as other parts of retail and is expected to grow at 75% CAGR from 2016 to 2024 to exceed $175 billion by 2024.