Technology put to the test on product packaging

'Augmented reality' in retail


From Band Aids that project videos of your favorite characters to Legos that let you see how all the bricks look put together, marketers are putting technology to the test on product packaging.

"You can see the action figure moving around before you buy it. We're also seeing it on food products that can pop out and show you recipes or ideas that links to other web sites." said Scott Stein with CNET.com.

They're using augmented reality.  That's where an object appears to come to life using a special app and your smart phone's screen.   You just hold the phone over a certain point or label on the product and voila, you find out all kinds of things about products.

"So it will look three-dimensional and it will look like it's on that piece of paper or on that product but it's only being held on your phone," said Stein.

"That product will pop up and we can have additional information on it and we can see it being used in different kinds of contexts," explained Ron Hill, a marketing professor at Villanova University.

We've seen augmented reality in products before, but the packaging?

"We know a lot of package is designed to create the sale," said Hill.

The leading sectors trying the trend so far include autos, food and entertainment, especially toys.  It's all about adding value to the product for the consumer and ultimately securing the sale.  And sometimes, keeping track of that sale.

"With your smart tag you can actually snap it on anything that you're purchasing that is in that package. Then, when you go to the store the next time, know how you can't remember if you bought that character? Now you'll know," said Lauri Schacht with toyinsidermom.com.

But not everyone is completely sold on the new tech trend.

"It may seem confusing and it may seem cooler than it actually is," said Stein.

Marketers like that they're engaging potential customers.  But what is the customer payoff for their extra work?

"It may just be animation that says hello or an animation of a model you're going to create," Stein said.

Either way, marketing gurus say you will be seeing more and more of it in the future.

"There are industries where competition is really demanding it in order to be competitive and industries where it just hasn't occurred yet," said Hill.