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A 'smart' way to interact with consumers
Image courtesy of Thinfilm

A 'smart' way to interact with consumers

Markets are changing, especially when it comes to marketing to millennials. “Brands have to meet consumers where they are—they are mobile first,” says Bill Cummings, Thinfilm’s SVP of corporate communications.

A major global pharmaceutical company has embraced such change and is testing “smart” shelves that communicate digitally with shoppers.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has introduced "smart" shelves in retail stores across Canada for Flonase Allergy Relief, the first “prescription to over-the-counter” intranasal corticosteroid spray. The shelves employ Thinfilm’s SpeedTap tags, which interact with consumers through the tap of their NFC-enabled smartphones, Cummings tells PMP News

“At GSK, we focus on helping people do more, feel better, and live longer. And we do that, in large part, by delivering highly effective products to the market,” said Sriman Banerjee, director – R&D respiratory packaging, for GSK, in a news release. “But we also realize that connecting directly with consumers to provide unique and meaningful experiences is critical in today’s market. We believe an innovative mobile technology like Thinfilm’s can play a critical role in strengthening customer relationships, building brand loyalty, and driving revenue for the Flonase brand.”

The Flonase shelves consist of a frame with promotional signage displaying a “call to action” that alerts consumers to tap the sign with their smartphone for more information. The tags communicate with Thinfilm’s software platform CNECT to distribute GSK’s custom content and messaging. The cloud-based CNECT also allows GSK to manage tags remotely, view real-time consumer tapping activity, and develop valuable consumer insights through built-in analytics functionality. 

Above: Thinfilm's SpeedTags

Cummings says that brands like Flonase “are looking to SpeedTap tags for consumer engagement. Rather than relying on a custom reader, the communication agent is the smartphone—everyone has this supercomputer in their pocket. It bodes well for adoption and usage,” he says.

Such engagement allows brands ‘to tell their message directly to consumers, rather than go through a search engine or social media. At that point, brands lose control of the message and the conversation,” he says. “NFC allows brands to get intermediaries out of the conversation.

“Brands can create unique digital experiences and pass along valuable information,” he continues. “It allows them to build relationships and loyalty.” Content options include instructions, ingredients, promotions and discounts, cross-selling initiatives, loyalty programs, and sweepstakes. “Brands can dynamically change messaging on the fly,” he adds.

Cummings says that GSK is “quite innovative and forward thinking—the company sees the value of NFC as well as the benefits Thinfilm offers, which include high-volume tag production with lower price points for roll production. We offer a one-stop solution for hardware, tags, CNECT, integration, support, and services from a network of partners. Jones Packaging, for instance, offers high-speed automated manufacturing of paperboard components.”

The Flonase smart shelves will be in more than a hundred retail stores in six of Canada’s provinces. “We will work with GSK to analyze the metrics from this field trial,” Cummings says. “Our hope is to use this initial trial as a foundation to expand the program, and that could include the United States.”

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Be sure to check out these educational opportunities at MinnPack and MD&M Minneapolis in November:
  • "Workshop: Transforming Healthcare with Augmented & Virtual Reality" by
    Brandon Bogdalek, business development manager, Worrell
  • "Deep Design: Using Technology to Improve Clinical Work Processes" by Kathleen Harder, PhD; Director, Center for Design in Health, University of Minnesota
  • "How Usability Research & Engineering Are Changing Medical Device Development" by Sean Hagen (BlackHagen Design) and Michael Lynch (Intertek)
  • "Case Study: How Human-Centered Design Disrupted Cancer Treatment," by Mu Young Lee (Varian Medical Systems)
  • "Top 6 IoT Design Strategies for Success" by Gianfranco Bonanome, director of IoT Solutions, Intelligent Product Solutions
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