Packaging Europe spoke exclusively with James Adkin, senior global brand manager, Unilever, to uncover the stance of a leading transnational consumer goods company on AR. Unilever also divulged to us an exciting innovation launch which will utilise AR on pack. 

James Adkin outlines five key contexts/use cases for augmented reality on-pack: to convey transparency and sustainability/recycling messaging; story-telling; ‘How-to’ demonstrations; promotions and games; and social sharing activities i.e. face filters. 

“It’s important to think about where AR fits into the customer experience and ensure it adds value,” explains James Adkin. “The key for brands is to make AR a part of its integrated marketing effort rather than as one-off standalone activities.” 

Unilever’s strategy

Unilever is exploring ways of offering always-on connected packaging platforms, of which AR will be a key component. Using its packaging as an always-on media channel, impacting its customers at the point of use seems, “an obvious win for us - with AR ensuring the content we provide is relevant, and highly engaging,” says James Adkin.

“We think that AR can help us share the higher purpose of our brands to consumers in different and engaging ways. We will learn more about the experience of our consumers with our brands and use this to deliver a better experience. We also think that it gives us the opportunity to offer customers more shopping options such as via e-commerce sites - particularly when AR is used as part of a connected packaging programme.”

Looking ahead, Unilever expects that packaging platforms will provide content that is personalised and dynamic. James Adkin explains, “There is a big opportunity for AR to add and enhance 'moments of use' in ways that are helpful and valuable for consumers as well as being commercially relevant for brands.”

The main issues around AR, according to James Adkin, have been that you need to download an app in order to trigger the experience. He points out, “Whilst some people will have some apps that are AR enabled already on their phones e.g. Snap, for most it’s not a seamless customer experience. However the advent of web AR this year, providing the ability for anyone to get an AR experience from a QR code, which is now native of a wide variety of smart phones, will definitely see adoption increase.”

New product launch 

Cif (from Unilever) is utilising AR on ecorefill; a new innovation in the home cleaning category, allowing consumers to reuse their spray bottles via an ecorefill. 

AR is used to demonstrate how to activate the ecorefill via a connected pack experience whilst also highlighting how to fully recycle the packaging and reuse the bottle for life. 

James Adkin enthuses, “There’s a few other surprises delivered once the pack has been scanned so I won’t spoil them now!”