Editions   North America | Europe | Magazine


Premium Commentary & Analysis

Augmented Reality: Will it Revolutionize Packaging?

Augmented Reality has the potential to open a world of possibilities for brand owners who are seeking to drive an immersive consumer interaction with their products. When applied to packaging, the digital information is visible through mobile or tablet devices and is enabled by an app. Customers are becoming more receptive to AR, and this article explores how brand owners are leveraging packaging to integrate the technology into the customer experience.


Our mission is to provide cogent commentary and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing industry. Support our mission and read articles like this with a Premium Membership.


About Barb Pellow

A digital printing and publishing pioneer, marketing expert and Group Director at InfoTrends, Barbara Pellow helps companies develop multi-media strategies that ride the information wave. Barb brings the knowledge and skills to help companies expand and grow business opportunity.

Please offer your feedback to Barb. She can be reached at [email protected].


By Gordon Pritchard on Jun 01, 2017

Is it just me? I've never seen a consumer using their smartphone to scan a package - or QR code for that matter. And having to diwnload an app specific to a brand as I understand the Coke example to be just puts a barrier up to the technology.


By Eddy Hagen on Jun 02, 2017

AR could indeed become a big thing. According to this study with 16.000 consumers worldwide, the majority expects AR/VR in retail: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/302135/54-want-to-use-vrar-in-physical-stores.html
From the article: "Retailers in the U.S. should take note: the majority (54%) of U.S. consumers said they want to use AR/VR technology in physical stores, and 59% want to see it used in shopping apps, reporting it as a more fun way of shopping."
The big question however will be what you are going to do with that AR/VR... Looking back at the past 3 decades, I've noticed that in many cases the implementation of new technology has two phases. The first is the fun/promotion phase, where the applications will focus on fun and promotion. The Vital Farms and Coca-cola cases Barb mentions are perfect examples.
But when the fun/promotion phase is over and pundits jump to the next new revolutionary technology (and declare the old one dead), others will take over and will use it for productivity/convenience. That's the second phase. And that's, in my opinion, a much more interesting phase. It may not be as trendy as the fun/promotion phase, but it will last much longer... And the productivity/convenience phase will have more impact. The nutritional information, cooking instructions Barb mentioned are some examples. I once saw a QR code on a (very small!) package of glue which linked to instructions, including safety instructions.
Other examples of AR/VR I've seen are manufacturing and maintenance: the AR/VR will guide the service engineer doing complex maintenance. Also a user manual could be turned into a AR/VR experience. And it's these kinds of applications that will be much more interesting than the one off fun/promotion stuff (the second time people will get bored). And it's in these kind of applications that there are possibilities for the printing industry: creating the content for these kinds of tools for their customers.
PS: there is one thing you have should really take into account: people must immediately detect that there is a AR/VR experience. That's why Digimarc (and others) never had a wide breakthrough: the information was undetectable to the human eye, they needed to include a special icon to show it was a 'Digimarc enabled' ad. And that's where a QR codes shines: it is so uggly that everybody notices it...


By Jukka Lindgren on Jun 05, 2017

Asked my kids, 12 and 14 yr.
100% of replies was: "Wouldn't load the app, also wouldn't buy the product for that reason only."

Confirms my suspicion: useless gimmicks just don't cut it with todays' educated and critical kids.

The benefit must be concrete, immediate, and guaranteed. "Sweepstakes" with some vague probability to win something is, again, not enough.


By Pete Basiliere on Jun 06, 2017

AR is not a strategy within itself. It is a set of technologies used to augment the user's world view with contextual, relevant and actionable information.

Gartner research found that "Business and consumer use cases have not been clearly defined yet. Business applications show better near-term (two to three years) ROI."

Print service providers will do well to focus on supporting B2B uses of AR. If B2C, focus on markets with highly engaged customers and prospects such as auto and cosmetics/fashion.

We are gradually seeing a small number of solutions that add value beyond the novelty, such as adding elements of e-commerce, or extending content and interaction abilities. For example, Volvo plans to use Microsoft's HoloLens to give customers new perspectives on car design and configurations.



Join the discussion Sign In or Become a Member, doing so is simple and free

WhatTheyThink is the official show daily media partner of drupa 2024. More info about drupa programs