Can food brands make augmented reality come to life?
- For a long time, augmented reality appeared to hold potential as the next great tool for advertisers to engage their audience. In recent years, food and beverage manufacturers have started to realize some of that potential — as shown by the stratospheric, if short-lived, success of Pokémon Go last summer — but it has to be leveraged correctly, an executive with UK-based AR firm Zappar told FoodNavigator-USA.
- Zappar recently worked with snack manufacturer Wise Foods to develop an AR functionality on the brand's packaging that would allow consumers to scan a "zapcode" with their smartphones and then swat baseballs thrown at them by a pitcher.
- "The key to success will lie in finding creative ways to integrate [AR] into a broader brand strategy across multiple platforms and locations, rather than slapping another logo on an already-crowded food label because you can," Max Dawes, Marketing Director of Zappar, told FoodNavigator-USA.
Mobile phones represent a compelling opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers to engage consumers. A well-developed augmented reality app can engage youth and adult consumers with games, as well as useful or interesting information about products. The key is making the payoff worth the effort for the consumer.
AR and virtual reality have long held potential for brands, but it's always been more hype than reality. AR differs from virtual reality in that it shows your real-world environment and then augments it with computer-generated sensory input, like sound, video or graphics. All that is needed is a digital device, like a cell phone.
A number of manufacturers have tried out AR with varying degrees of success. General Mills used a Star Wars tie-in for AR in packaging for their cereal brands. PepsiCo tried to entice consumers in a 2014 football campaign “Now Is What You Make It” with an AR app. In response, rival Coca-Cola came up with their own Coca-Cola Magic App to promote products in 2015. In 2014, Kraft teamed up with Walmart Supercenters for a summer AR marketing campaign, which focused on summer-themed food items. This ended up being a lucrative collaboration for the two corporate giants, and offered consumers a fun activity in the market.
AR is also being used by sales staff to show how their products could fit in potential retail spaces. Coca-Cola equipped their sales teams in Germany with an AR app, which they used to simulate and demonstrate how future coolers, displays and Coca-Cola installments would look and fit in a specific environment.
While there is great potential for AR to become a mainstay in the field of food and beverage marketing, it has to engage the consumer in a way they find valuable. There are thousands of games already available in the app store, many with loyal followings. The question becomes, why should consumers bother to download the game on the packaging of the food they just ate? While this does pose a challenge, food and beverage manufacturers do have one ace up their sleeve: Consumers are already actively using their phones throughout the day. They just need the proper motivation to use their phone to engage with the product. Figuring out that compelling use case is the biggest challenge.