Secret agent Maxwell Smart from the 1960s TV show was onto something big with his shoe phone. Mobile communication technology has advanced so much in recent years that we almost can't live without our cell phones. They are just so smart these days—literally. According to 2012 research from Nielsen (www.nielsen.com), about half of U.S. mobile phone users own smartphones.
No wonder then that marketers continue to come up with different on-pack codes to communicate with consumers via their handheld computers. Check out two new technologies in "Next-gen interactive codes heighten fun-ctionality" on p.28.
About one week after our article was finished, we received info on several other emerging technologies:
• PackageTagz (www.packagetagz.com) uses Near Field Communication (NFC) to connect brands and consumers via their NFC-enabled smartphones. With NFC, consumers simply put their smartphone close to a package and voila! Information is instantly shared. PackageTagz applies NFC to pouches and other types of packages as they are made.
Think it's too early for NFC? Mobile Marketing magazine reported in 2011 that, according to a study from Juniper Research (www.juniperresearch.com), at least one in five smartphones worldwide will be equipped with NFC contactless functionality by 2014—a mere three months from now—equating to almost 300 million NFC-capable mobile phones.
• As easy as NFC is to use, Italian printing organization StampaSud says it has something even simpler. The new StampaTech service through its SmartLab labeling division (www.smartlabitalia.com) lets consumers obtain more product information by downloading an app and then scanning nearly any part of the package with a smartphone or tablet.
Antony Calo, commercial director at StampaSud, told The Mobile Wallet Report, "The process is very simple and uses a technology that can be accessed by anybody. It's not NFC, it is much simpler than NFC, and it's not QR code. I think QR codes are limited and very ugly. It supports both iOS and Android and is very straightforward. We can't disclose too much information regarding the technology used at this point, but it's a mix of digital and special print technologies."
According to Calo, the information available to consumers could be unlimited and anything the brand owner deems worthy.
Ah, there's the rub. What's "worthy"?
On-pack codes can deliver a lot of different content and features. We've seen coupons, contests, brand authentication, ethical sourcing and production data, recipes, usage instructions, expanded nutritional info, edu-tainment videos and stories, cause marketing and more.
A new feature of StampaTech is a virtual freshness indicator, which tracks temperature or time and can do "reverse counting" from the date of product packaging or of initial opening.
As you assess new technologies, consider what it can deliver, as well as how, to ensure a positive consumer experience.