Product Is The New Media, So Turn Your Product On

Let’s take a walk down the aisle of any store — floor-to-ceiling displays, in-aisle advertisements, competitive discounts. Once at home, switching on the TV or heading online from a computer or our mobile device only opens more channels that bombard us with noisy advertisements … a day in the life of a modern consumer presents more choices than ever.

Combine this multitude of choice with shortened attention spans and it’s no surprise advertising innovation is increasing at such a quick pace, but could the answer to long-lasting consumer engagement already be sitting right on the shelf?

With billions of SKUs on shelves worldwide, product is a brand’s prime real estate. It is what we pick off the shelf, hold in our hands and take into our homes. Further, product alone contains the potential to encourage brand loyalty and lasting engagement.   

Beautiful, eye-catching packaging is a start, of course. Moving a product off the shelf is always the priority. But marketers owe it to their bosses and their budgets to think beyond the sale. The objects we buy should not become “dead” space after leaving the store.



The biggest challenge lies in developing product-based experiences that encourage consumers to interact with a product of their own volition. As a consumer, some of my favorite brands have impressed me with the smart ways they are using their packaging and products as an interactive medium to share quality content that engages, educates and entertains.

The cult-favorite, Icelandic-style yogurt brand Siggi’s, is appearing on more and more grocery store shelves across the U.S. alongside classic yogurt brands. The clean, white packaging certainly attracts the attention of shoppers, but peel the label off and you’ll reveal Siggi’s charming brand story and useful product information. For one, “skyr” is Icelandic for yogurt, which has been a staple of Icelandic diets for more than 1,000 years.

By incorporating the brand story directly onto the product itself, Siggi’s packaging isn’t driving consumers away from the product and encouraging them to learn more online. Instead, it is educating curious consumers on the spot, in the exact moment a shopper chooses to engage with the product, inspiring brand engagement post-sale.

Another intuitive way for brands today to start leveraging their products is to consider how consumers naturally interact with them on a day-to-day basis. This summer’s successful “Share a Coke” is a great example. Coca-Cola added the most popular names in the U.S to Coke products and let users personalize products, too. The message was simple: share a Coke with a friend, either in-person or online. Seemingly overnight, Coca-Cola bottles took on a life and personality of their own and became mementos to share among friends and family. This campaign reversed a decade-long decline in Coke sales — the results speak for themselves.

Some companies are even taking their efforts one step further by using new technologies to bridge the physical and the digital and engage customers in the moments that matter most.

For example, beacon technology is making waves in the retail sector by sending consumers alerts and product information to their mobile devices as they pass by a product in a store. Hillshire Farm’s experimentation with beacon technology led to an impactful increase in brand awareness and sales within just two days.

Further, wearable, mobile and socially integrated technologies are poised to transform the way we look at products. Before long, all products will be digitally enhanced with content that consumers will engage with using the devices and networks we increasingly rely on. 

From simply promoting social sharing to adding a layer of digital content that we can trigger with our mobile or wearable devices, all brands will soon harness the ability packaging has to connect, educate and entertain.The potential here is limitless; imagine a world where consumers use their mobile devices as visual world browsers to learn more about the products around them, where products themselves become the domain names of the physical world.

Encouraging consumers to proactively seek out branded content or experiences can be challenging. But, dynamic packaging and new technologies offer limitless opportunity to deliver engaging and valuable content to consumers the second they come across a product in a store, on the street or in their homes. From simple labels to augmented reality and beyond, the tools are all there. Now it’s just up to brands to switch their products “on” and bring them to life.

Next story loading loading..