Nathalie Muller, CEO, Linkz-IM
It is no longer just millennials that tweet, pin, chat, snap and scan. People are using their smartphones to interact with the world around them. Therefore it is important for brands to be present and consistent across more media channels than ever. Connected packaging and print is a powerful new channel. It means that people can use their smartphone to scan a trigger and in return receive digital content, which adds value to the customer experience. Brands are discovering this exciting new channel, which can also help them gain detailed insight into customer behaviour and preferences.

In this 2-part series we will look at
i. Why use connected packaging and print
ii. How to connect and how to manage connected packaging and print

Kitkat connected packaging

Kitkat connected packaging campaign Spring 2016


The world is moving fast and marketing is moving with it: omnichannel marketing
Since the introduction of the smartphone many media have crossed over or merged. We are constantly connected with friends and family, whether they are next door or many time zones away.

Brands need to make their messages heard and understood in this world with more media channels than ever. What are all these channels?

push pull marketing list
Source: Gerard Marketing Group

The traditional channels fall into the “Push” (Paid) category, where you use one-way messages to talk to your audience via print, TV, radio and outdoor. “Earned Media” work a bit slower, but have a higher conversion rate. “Owned Media” is where your audience actively engages with you because they want to. Needless to say it has an even higher conversion rate 2.

Which channels you use depends on your products and your audiences. But as you can see from the overview, managing all these channels and ensuring consistency and clarity is no mean feat!

Sometimes the channels are very new and brands find it hard to manage the messages. We all know examples of brands’ tweets that went wrong, or QR codes that linked to embarrassing websites. While it’s part of trying and learning and therefore definitely important, as marketers you don’t have a lot of room for error.

What do you need?

Omni-channel marketing therefore requires two things.

Firstly, a clear customer engagement strategy. Not only using the more traditional channels in the “Push” or “Paid” category, but also using more recent technologies, like social media and websites from the “Pull” category. Ensuring your brand has a holistic view of how you engage with your audience, and a single voice across all the channels.

Secondly, easy tools to manage the delivery of the strategy. With the rise of the new channels (social media, websites, YouTube, etc) there is also the rise of the marketing management systems. The choice is overwhelming and depending on the needs of your brand and audience you may have to try a few.

Connected packaging

Let’s focus on one of the more recent channels from the “Owned Media” category. Packaging is one of the most powerful channels a brand owns. The problem is that space is often at a premium. Instructions, ingredients, even in different languages if needed, it won’t all fit.

With the rise of smartphones and the improvement of the cameras on the phones it has become possible to make packaging digitally connected. This means that the consumer uses the camera on the phone to scan the packaging to obtain additional information. For example, a detailed list of ingredients and nutritional value. Or detailed instructions of how to use the product (e.g. DIY, or pharmaceutical, or motoring). Or detailed information about the product’s provenance, whether it is organic, ethically produced, local, etc.

But it doesn’t have to be just additional text that doesn’t fit on the label, or is hard to read on the instruction manual. It can also take the form of video – very handy for more complex products. And it doesn’t have to stop at information. Once the prospect has the product in their hands and is looking at it they are very open to a brand’s messages. This is the moment to deliver extra value to them, reasons to prefer your brand over others, because you make them feel valued, or happy, or both!

A study3 revealed that 64% of UK consumers are interested in everyday objects being connected to the internet, with connected packaging that delivers extra consumer value being deemed most appealing.

So what extra could you offer them?

Of course this depends on your products and brand value. If you are Cadbury and your brand value is around “joy” you can add extra joy to your packaging by linking it to amusing videos. If you are RedBull and your value is around “excitement” you can add extra excitement to a can by linking it to your TV channel with lots of terrifying videos of people throwing themselves off mountain tops.
If you are a company that manufactures commercial cleaning products you can add product information sheets in various languages and videos of your training programme to remind people which products can and can’t be used in conjunction.

You can help people purchase your product (again), especially useful if you don’t sell via supermarkets. Imagine – a customer is running out of their favourite posh chocolates, and all they need to do it scan the barcode, press “buy again”, and voila, next day their new stash is delivered!

Premiere Products connected packaging

Premiere Products connected packaging (source: Berkshire Labels)


You can also use your packaging to link to your loyalty scheme. Or to serve up discount vouchers. Or you can make it super-easy for people to share their experience of your product on social media, or get in touch with you with one click.

With some platforms you can connect your packaging and deliver personalised results. Pay-offs tailored to the end-user, so you show them quite how much you value them by delivering truly worthwhile content. 94% of senior-level executives believe delivering personalization is critical or important to reaching customers4 .
A recent “Digital IQ” survey by PwC5 showed that “60% of marketers say they are not effectively delivering personalized customer experiences today”. Packaging connecting to personalised content is the perfect solution here.

Connected “other”

But it doesn’t have to stop at packaging. In fact, brand owners can digitally activate anything printed. Catalogues, till receipts, posters, all collateral can be used. And it doesn’t have to be just printed either! Technologies like RFID, NFC or Bluetooth Beacons require physical triggers to be connected to the products, but they are also scannable!

At home: In store:
Flyer inside product packaging Bluetooth beacons
Existing EAN barcode on product NFC
Product labels RFID
Catalogue images Shelf edge
Direct mail Point of Sale
TV or audio trigger Barcode on product
Till receipt

Examples of items scannable by the consumer

For example, if one of your main sales channels is catalogues then linking the catalogue items to their digital representations makes it a tonne easier for people to buy.

In the second part we will look at ‘how’ you can connect print and packaging.



[1] Forbes:

[2] “Marketing in an omni-channel world”, Susan Gerard,

[3] Mindshare in association with Sharp End

[4] PwC at