10 examples of how brands are using digital technology to attract customers

We take a look at 10 real-life examples of how leading brands are using the latest tech offerings like augmented reality, facial recognition and virtual apps to vamp up their marketing campaigns

More than ever before, brands are turning to the power of technology in an effort to attract, engage and retain customers in new and innovative ways.

A recent report by Gartner revealed brands embracing technologies such as gesture control, hybrid cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning, have a greater focus on new and more sophisticated ways to reach consumers and are more willing to participate in marketing efforts to gain greater social connection, or product and service value.

We take a look at how ten leading global brands are using digital capability creatively to attract more customers and breathe life into their ad campaigns.

1. OMO’s smart peg

Washing detergent brand, OMO, recently partnered with J Walter Thompson to launch ‘Peggy’, a smart peg featuring light, humidity and temperature sensors, along with a Wi-Fi module, to provide consumers with information on the best time to do the washing according to various weather indicators.

The peg is synced to a user’s mobile phone and uses push notifications to update consumers of these changes in weather conditions. It also features a USB charging port and longlife in-built battery. Users can see on their mobile screen a weather snap shot, approximate finished drying time, drying cycle and wash cycle timing, and also have the ability to set reminders on when to plan a wash.

“In today’s complex and hyper-connected world, we believe brands have a responsibility to create and lead for positive change,” Unilever laundry and homecare A/NZ marketing director, Paul Connell, said. “I see innovation and being open to explore solutions like Peggy as key to us achieving this.”

2. Tesco’s face scanning technology

British multinational chain, Tesco, created headlines when it announced the installation of face-scanning technology at its petrol stations, personalising advertisements to individual customers once they reached the cash register.

Created by Amscreen, the high-tech ‘OptimEyes’ screens use a camera and facial recognition software to identify a customer's gender and approximate age, to then show advertising tailored to their demographic. The technology also adjusts adverts depending on the time and date, as well as monitoring customer purchases.

3. Ebay and Myer’s first virtual reality shop

Making the grand reveal in partnership with Myer, eBay launched new VR technology that allows Australian customers to browse more than 12,500 products using eBay’s new gaze recognition technology, Sight Search.

Following a 12-month development phase, the virtual reality department store now connects to the existing eBay site, which can be accessed by a new eBay VR Department Store app. Once the app is downloaded, customers then place their smartphones in a set of ‘shoptical’ VR glasses to start the shopping experience.

4. Cherry Ripe’s OOH displays

Facial recognition, audience insights data and digital out-of-home were brought together in Mondelez’s Cherry Ripe time-targeted OOH advertising campaign, which were displayed at petrol stations managed by Val Morgan Outdoor.

The technology tapped into data to identify when the target audience is most likely to be paying attention to the screen while at the petrol pump, and combines with Val Morgan’s real-time audience measurement system to determine if the viewer is within that target demographic, before serving the ad accordingly.

5. Heineken’s interactive beer bottle

In an effort to tap into the cool aspect of club culture, Heineken’s Ignite concept created headlines with its interactive beer bottles fitted with LEDS and motion sensors designed to light up during a partygoer’s night out.

With the help of eight bright LEDs, an 8-bit microprocessor and an accelerometer, a customer’s motions can trigger certain effects that light up the whole bottle, like cheering or taking a swig. The effects can also be remotely activated and controlled via software, so each bottle becomes a light source that can be synchronised to the music.

6. Pepsi’s interactive drink bottles

During the 2014 World Cup, Pepsi ran a football-specific augmented reality (AR) campaign as a flavour of the month with Blippar. It created 250 million interactive cans where users could play a football game with the world’s five leading players. Pepsi saw 60,000 hours of engagement on the cans within a month and a conversion of 2 per cent, where roughly 3.5 million people blipped their Pepsi cans.

“That level of engagement was amazing and unheard of,” Blippar CEO and co-founder, Ambarish Mitra, said. “You would sometimes have to spend $20-$25 million on TV advertising to get 60,000 hours of engagement in countries like the US, UK or across Europe. The brand was amazingly happy, because the KPI was brand awareness, virality and a lot of noise in the social space. All the cans sold out and they became a limited edition collector’s item.”

Startups such as Blippar have already made significant inroads offering technology that lets users point their smartphones or tablets at objects, then watch as the screen unveils a 3D animation, game or graphic, bringing the object to life.

Since its inception in 2011, 2500 brands have joined Blippar across three continents including Cadbury, Heinz, Nike, Xbox, Coca-Cola, Milo, Sunny Queen Eggs and Maybelline.

7. Ikea’s augmented reality interior designer

With the plethora of furniture choices at Ikea stores, the global chain wanted to make customer’s choices less overwhelming with an augmented reality app that works like a virtual interior designer and allows customers to visualise 3D versions of its furniture in their homes.

Using the app, consumers can virtual plan a couch, table of chair in a room. They can flip through the print catalogue and when they come across a ‘plus’ symbol on the page, hover their phone or tablet until a screen pops up to scan the images on the page. When they find a piece they want to test out, they place the physical catalogue in the spot at home, and their device camera uses the book to gauge the correct scale for the products shown on the screen.

8. Kit Kat’s interactive chocolate bars

Mobile app, Shazam, recently partnered with Nestlé to roll out a new marketing campaign enabling customers to visually interact with their KITKAT chocolate bars. The partnership saw millions of Shazam-enabled chocolate bars distributed as part of the brand’s latest consumer promotion, where The KITKAT team were on the search for people to join ‘The Breakers Party’ to have the chance to win ‘the break of a lifetime’.

In order to interact with the brand, customers open the Shazam app on their smartphone, hold the phone over the front of the KITKAT and then tapped the camera icon to visually Shazam the packaging.

“The partnership between KITKAT and Shazam shows how we can bring innovative and easy-to-use technology to consumers to enhance their break and delight them in new ways,” Nestlé’s head of marketing, Chris O’Donnell, said. “We are excited to be the first confectionery brand in Australia to offer this technology on packaging and in doing so truly integrate through the line.

9. Loreal’s makeup genius app

L’Oréal’s ‘Makeup Genius’ app launched in Australia not only allowed women to virtually try on its cosmetics products using augmented reality technology, but also purchase direct through Priceline online.

The ‘Makeup Genius’ app is based on facial mapping technology previously used in the film and gaming industries, and turns a smartphone or iPad camera into a virtual mirror that women can use to try on L’Oréal products in real time.

Consumers scan a product or advertisement to detect a colour match, then can virtually try on individual products as well as curated looks suggested by expert makeup artists. These images can then be shared via Facebook.

“The click to buy with Priceline is really exciting,” L'Oréal’s head of digital and media for Australia and New Zealand, Christophe Eymery, told CMO. “It is a very positive move and we now not only have a customer engagement app, but Makeup Genius as an ecommerce platform.

“The opportunity to try the makeup on virtually is just an entry point. But purchasing within the environment where you’ve discovered and tried and know how it looks on yourself ultimately motivates you to purchase it.”

10. Vivid’s 3D facial recognition installation

Sydney's creative light festival Vivid Sydney decided to engage participants on a whole new interactive level with Intel's new 3D facial recognition technology.

The 'Eyes on the Harbour' installation at Darling Harbour uses Intel’s RealSense technology to capture the faces of visitors in 3D and project them onto a 25-metre high water screen. Participants also receive a link to a short movie of their face projected onto the water theatre which can be shared on social media as a memento of their Intel experience at Vivid Sydney.

“Intel has elevated its offering to the public year-on-year, bringing festivalgoers mesmerising experiences with art and technology that push the limits of imagination," Intel Australia's national marketing director, Anna Torres, said. "With our 'Eyes on the Harbour' installation, we’re making previously unimagined experiences a reality."

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

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