‘Smart’ packaging opens digital opportunities for food brands

As noted in our recent trend report on food, packaging can be a gateway to more information and content via QR codes and similar technologies. The idea isn’t new (especially in some markets), but consumers are only gradually taking to it—5 percent of American adults with a mobile phone scan any kind of 2D barcode, up from 1 percent in 2010, according to a recent Forrester study—and brands are still testing ideas around it.

Games are one value offering. In the U.K., Cadbury uses Blippar technology to enable augmented reality-style games on chocolate bar packaging. Tic Tac recently launched an AR game in which the mint box serves as background as the player tosses mints into the mouth of a 3-D character. Codes can also lead consumers to more information, like recipes or sourcing. Kraft recently added QR codes to several cheese products, giving users ideas about how to use them. In Vancouver, Foodtree is teaming up with restaurants to offer QR codes on menus that tell diners about where ingredients come from.

Another idea: General Mills’ CMO suggested to USA Today that the traditional surprise inside a cereal box could become a phone-based “visual surprise.” The cereal box is an appealing platform, with plenty of real estate and a spot in front of people eating breakfast. Last year Kellogg’s saw a respectable response to QR codes on its newly launched Crunchy Nut cereal in the U.S.

Watch for a wave of experimentation from brands seeking to tap new opportunities to extend their message and create a new channel for everything from coupons and loyalty rewards to education and entertainment. See “What’s Cooking?” for additional examples.

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