Augmented reality labels may someday be the rule rather than the exception.
The label you affix to your product — whether it’s on packaged food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, or something else — has a lot of jobs to do. It must grab attention on the shelf, provide information, and strengthen your brand by telling a story.
That's why interactive labels are poised to become an important tool for manufacturers and retailers. Augmented reality labels (AR labels for short) provide a brand-new user experience that causes buyers to spend more time examining your product on the shelf. A 2009 study demonstrated that the "you touch it, you buy it" feeling (and the willingness to pay more) accelerated sharply when consumers examined a product for 30 seconds as compared to 10 seconds or less. AR labels provide a way to get the buyer focused on the product for half a minute or more.
Here we must pause to state the obvious: the modern hominid cannot leave home without clutching a device that, to him or her, makes life much more interesting. And the idea that many such beings would enjoy watching items on the shelf come to life on the screen of a smartphone seems obvious.
The market for augmented and virtual reality is expanding at an accelerating rate, with Statista forecasting growth to over $18 billion in 2020. Over the next few years, scanning product labels to see how they come alive could become second nature.
What AR Labels Look Like
When a product has an AR label, it looks like an ordinary "passive" label until viewed with a free app that makes it leaps to life on the screen of the smartphone. If you haven't studied AR labels in action, please pause to view this demo or this one, or this one, or dozens more like them that may be found on YouTube.
The obvious possibilities for connecting with buyers are what's powering this move from passive to active labels. All the ingredients are in place: a universally available technology (phones), a generation that grew up playing games on them, and low entry barriers via free or low-cost software tools to create the dynamic content. The exciting thing is, all this means you get to start a relationship before the consumer has even bought your product.
- Drive unique visitors to your website
- Generate coupons
- Provide in-depth information that engages
- Create cross-selling opportunities
- Track consumer behavior
- Geolocate to adapt based on where the consumer is
What Augmented Reality Labels Work
Augmented reality saw its first widespread use by mobile phone users when the Pokemon Go game became a worldwide craze in 2016 (you can read about that here on Wikipedia). Pokemon GO uses GPS, accelerometer, and compass information to embed computer-generated objects in the camera view.
AR labels, on the other hand, use markers. The app looks for a predefined image that triggers the display of AR overlays only when the consumer aims the device at your product.
Augmented Reality Wine Labels
The wine industry is fertile ground for augmented reality wine labels because of its competitive nature and the need for labels that sell. One augmented reality wine label app is being developed with field trial participation by over 500 wineries. This app will even combine GPS location sensing to change labels based on the viewer's location, such as displaying in different languages.
An augmented reality app called Living Wine Labels has been downloaded millions of times on Android and Apple devices, covering "25 unique experiences across 11 brands." It may be used with 19 Crimes labels, as well as labels for The Walking Dead, Beringer Brothers Bourbon, Gentleman's Collection, and others. One more interactive wine bottle label worth viewing is this one from Rabble Wine Company.
How to Get Started with AR Labels
There are free and low-cost app builder tools (e.g., appypie, overly) that anyone with a bit of computer-geek DNA and a willingness to experiment can use to create an AR application. Some label apps are industry-specific. For example, if your product is wine, a great way to go is the Living Wine Labels app. Once you see the potential of augmented reality, what your label does when it comes alive can be unique, and can easily be updated over time.
Often new technology seems silly, trivial, or strictly for geeks. But keep in mind that augmented reality labels may someday be the rule rather than the exception. Get started on the learning curve without committing a large amount of money will put you ahead of competitors when that happens. Meanwhile, you can find labeling equipment for your industry here, and learn lots more about labels by reading our blog, which has over 70 posts on the topic of labeling tips.