Connected packaging and gamification – unlikely bedfellows or the perfect pairing?

Interactive games, delivered via connected packaging, can help brands glean a unique and in-depth picture of consumer behaviour.

Jenny Stanley, Appetite Creative

Founder and Managing Director


Gamification via connected packaging pulls users into fun and exciting experiences that make it more enjoyable for them to interact with brands. The benefits of using connected packaging in this way can be significant, delivering a unique and challenging blend of engagement and data, allowing teams to make better product decisions and plan more effective marketing campaigns.

The collection of first-party data and analytics is of course a major advantage for any brand, with connected packaging delivering this valuable information directly from the customer’s fingertips. Simply by scanning QR codes or barcodes on the product packaging, customers are led to a customised digital campaign. This could be a quiz exploring customer product preferences, education campaigns about health or the environment, to a game that offers discounts, vouchers or sampling. Whatever the structure, it allows for GDPR compliant data collection, and the consumer journey is simple, with no extra app installations required.

Gamification is a behaviour management scheme that uses elements and techniques developed in game design and applies them to other contexts like marketing or advertising, for example, to motivate and engage individuals. By ‘connecting’ with their customers through packaging that integrates smart technology tools like QR codes or NFC chips to create and collect third-party data giving companies a deeper understanding of customers using, interacting and buying their products.

When it comes to gamified packaging, the possibilities are endless. Brands can use it to create deeper relationships with customers and obtain higher engagement, to provide them with educational and entertaining experiences and to keep them engaged on their products, among many other aspects.

At Appetite Creative, we work with many different brands to help deliver customer insights and digital-first campaigns. Recently, we partnered with CurryKing to create a series of bespoke mobile-first mini-games, delivered to the consumer via QR codes on product packaging. The mobile-focused campaign offered an instant share button, highlighting the shareability of the content to the consumer. On the data side, a bespoke dashboard platform tracked every live engagement, allowing the brand to see real-time data from the campaign. The campaign recorded more than 420k users engaged with the gaming experiences, with an average game time of 3.5 minutes.

When it comes to gamified packaging, the possibilities are endless.

Jenny Stanley, Founder and Managing Director at Appetite Creative

Connected packaging offers flexibility and multi-functionality which draws customers in via the allure of fun and rewards. Gamified experiences have a compelling effect on their audience, often resulting in social sharing, word of mouth advertising and brand loyalty.

Many companies now have the opportunity to use connected packaging and gamification as a new media channel, not only to sell products, but also to engage with employees or to communicate brand transparency.

A recent PepsiCo campaign put gamification at the heart of its graduate recruitment programme. A web-based app experience was designed that connected the gamification experience to PepsiCo’s data platforms. Built around 10 key brands, including Pepsi, Doritos and Walkers, the app experience runs alongside PepsiCo’s Dare To Do More programme, which was shared through key social media channels across Europe.

Graduates are encouraged to scan barcodes on PepsiCo products to educate themselves about the different brands and gain points, with the highest number of points winning a reward. PepsiCo wanted to introduce candidates to its brands and culture, boost their experience and engage them with the recruitment process. Participants can access branded selfie filters and have the opportunity to win additional prizes. The proprietary gaming technology allows candidates to benefit from inspiration and information. More than 500 users registered within the first two months, with almost 300 page views and an average session time of more than 8 minutes.

Connected packaging and gamification can do much more than create a valuable experience for consumers or employees. It also acts as a powerful tool to drive awareness of a brand's new product or corporate social responsibility programs.

Brands are increasingly looking to combine environmentally-friendly business practices with consumer education and engagement. Gamification is a great way to deliver important information in a way that is easy to digest and action, empowering them to make the right choices for themselves and the planet.

Working with Tetra Pak, a brand which has become increasingly focused on environmental and sustainability issues, we recently delivered a connected packaging campaign to help communicate their messages in an innovative and interactive way to customers. Our solution was to create a series of games, discoverable by using a mobile phone to scan QR codes found on Tetra Pak packaging. Social media was used to amplify this content, with the gamification platform focused on the themes of Renew, Reduce and Recycle. Each game communicated facts around Tetra Pak’s sustainability work, mixing consumer education with fun interactive play. In addition, the data collected allowed for a deeper level of consumer behaviour analysis.

One of these games included the "Growing Forrest Quiz", which tested players on sustainability facts. Whenever the player would answer correctly, they would see a tree growing and once they finished the quiz, the game would show them a fun fact about Tetra Pak's sustainability. Tetra Pak's gamified experience results had 2:00 min average time spent within the experience.

We work with many different brands to help deliver customer insights and digital-first campaigns. We partnered with Coca-Cola owned fruit juice drinks brand Rani Float, which is distributed in the Middle East and India. The aim of the campaign was to attract new customers to buy the fruit drinks, by creating a contest to attract a young audience. They also wanted to educate new and existing customers about the drink containing real pieces of fruit, high juice content, low sugar and a real fruit taste.

We developed an augmented reality application accessible on a mobile phone via QR codes found on the cans. The customer had to scan all four flavours in the correct order to get access to the entry form, which entered them to win tickets to the final of a coveted soccer match. The web based game encouraged customer interaction, educated them about the different drink flavours and showed them where to find the drinks on store shelves. Instant links to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were also shared encouraging customers to spread the word on their social networks.

The data collected directly from customers informed Coca-Cola about the times of day its products were purchased and where and when each flavour was sold. This helped to facilitate personalised marketing messages, leading to greater efficiency and better planning, as well as improved understanding about the customer.

This campaign for Rani Float combined several digital marketing tools and techniques: augmented reality (AR), connected packaging and finally gamification. AR allows brands to offer their customers unique and engaging experiences that combine ‘real’ and virtual interactive elements. With this campaign, the physical can of Rani Float became ‘virtual’ by being scanned. 

Gaming via connected packaging allows brands to be truly consumer-centric, with insights gleaned about product preferences, location and demographic information. It can also supply a direct-to-consumer channel to share product details, discounts and offers, as well as test and adapt marketing messages in real time. Through administration dashboards, it is possible to identify who redeemed which coupon, scanned which QR code, how long a user stayed on the platform, manage competitions and store data in an easy-to-access, real-time, GDPR-compliant platform. 

Packaging is no longer only about functionality. It is a marketing channel that many brands have overlooked for a long time – that of their own packaging. With packaging, the owned media is in close proximity with the customer. It’s not remote or restricted by time. It's the new gateway and removing any intermediary between the consumer and the brand. Connected Packaging can be harnessed to improve customer engagement, connectivity and unleash unlimited possibilities. Users are encouraged to play fun and compelling interactive games that bring them closer to brands.

Interactive games delivered via connected packaging can help brands glean a unique and in-depth picture of consumer behaviour. This insight can be invaluable, assisting brands to better understand their target audiences, but also reach them more efficiently, building valuable engagement. Whether that is younger mobile-first audiences, or vertical-specific product fans, this data collection and analysis can guide both product and marketing strategies. Seamlessly connected packaging and gaming delivers increased engagement and interaction, delivering untold value to both customers and brands.

Guest Author

Jenny Stanley, Appetite Creative

Founder and Managing Director


Jenny has over 20 years experience in international sales management across the media, advertising and creative technology industries. Founder of multi award-winning creative technology studio Appetite Creative, her mission is to lead creative technology in digital advertising. Prior to launching Appetite Creative in 2015, Jenny began her career at Microsoft as a senior member of the sales team, she then moved to UTarget and Oddcast leading business development. Latterly, she was sales director at EyeWonder/Mediamind and European commercial director at Adform. An innovative and dynamic leader, in 2017 Jenny also founded Women's networking group, FemmeNiche bringing together, supporting and inspiring women from all backgrounds and industries. She is also an experienced judge for numerous leading industry awards and a respected authority on creative digital, brand solutions, advertising technology and effectiveness.

Related Tags

Gaming Digital Experience