A brand's packaging is its largest owned media asset, and the Internet of Things and connected packaging are making it easier than ever to connect directly with consumers at scale.
For wines and spirits brands, a complexity for NFC integration has, until now, been how to incorporate the technology into the bottles without impact on the production process. Thanks to our partnership with Guala Closures, the world's largest provider of closures for the W&S market, we were able to support Böen, a California wine brand, with a U.S.-wide rollout of NFC-enabled closures to provide, at last, an integrated "Tap Our Cap" experience for the wine industry.
Brands are aware that their consumers are increasingly interacting with connected physical touchpoints, and are recognizing the real opportunity this holds for their products and packaging. Any part of the product can, or will, become connected in some way—whether as a way to reward consumers for loyalty, tell the brand story, incentivize at pre- and post-purchase, deliver great experiences, ingredients and transparency, or create ways for brands to better engage with their consumers.
SharpEnd was appointed as Böen's activation partner for the rollout, working closely with Guala on the technical solution and with the client to support the program. It was a solid team effort and relied on a well-integrated but cross-functional team (as is the case with connected programs).
Aside from the manufacturing hurdles, the biggest challenge was to ensure the technology was being deployed in the right way. Böen was the first wine brand to embrace the e-WAK closure, so we were starting with a blank sheet. When it comes to this sort of first-mover innovation, our starting point is always the consumer experience—it's a creative challenge rather than a technical one.
Without needing to download an app, a key barrier to other packaging technologies, upon tapping the user is transported to an interactive farmhouse to learn about where and how the wine was made, store wine selections in a "virtual cellar," and receive food pairings. It also acts as a central hub for brand lovers to share content with Böen. It offers consumers the chance to truly immerse themselves in Böen's brand world.
The cap went live in August, and early results indicate that the levels of engagement from consumers have far exceeded initial projections, and it's set to exceed performance across other channels. In fact, the results have been promising enough for Böen's brand team to make connected bottles an intrinsic part of a longer-term connected strategy.
There's no question Böen is currently a "lighthouse" brand in the sector. It's also prompting the category as a whole to rethink its approach to consumer engagement in the face of fierce competition and a general lack of innovation and differentiation. What's also clear, certainly from the brands we're working with, is that other categories are also cottoning on to the win-win solutions that NFC and other smart technologies are opening up.
SharpEnd is set to launch integrated NFC solutions for a wide range of brands across key industries as we continue to pioneer connected consumer engagement.