Digital branding: Gimmick or game-changer?

26 July, 2017

Marketers need to adopt a cradle to grave mindset that extends way beyond the consumer’s experience of a bottle. They need to go right back to the beginning as a bottle can potentially start gathering valuable data from the moment it leaves the distillery.


This data can not only inform manufacturers and later retailers, it can potentially be used as marketing material. This is particularly the case for more specialist and premium beverages where the entire production lifecycle could be turned into a narrative.

Certainly a bottle can now have its temperature monitored, its entire journey to shelf tracked and it can offer rapid and effective cashier scanning. If it is a premium brand that risks counterfeiting across markets it could even be tracked for proof of origin. Likewise a rare beverage could benefit from theft or fraud prevention via these digital identification techniques. But, more to the point, the fact that it can now tell its own life story is a powerful marketing tool.

The key is to define what we want to know, in other words, what information we want the bottle to gather along its journey. Then we need to establish how best to manage this data to ensure the experience is not just smooth and efficient but engaging and relevant. Creating awareness is one thing, offering an experience consumers want to share is another.

Digitally enabled packaging holds product identification data that can be updated in real time throughout the supply chain all the way to when it is with the consumer. As a bottle makes its way through the distribution chain, each stop can be reflected in the data. It can also serve as a launch point for communication between brands and consumers via their smartphones. This kind of clever technology should be delivering sophisticated brand messages, personalisation is no longer much of a draw card, even if it is illuminated.


This of course is the most exciting part, when it reaches the consumer - that interaction is what gets marketers and designers really excited. Establishing how consumers best interact with a drinks brand and how to apply the most relevant marketing campaigns around this requires deep diving into how consumers interact with this specific product.

As technology supplies consumers’ views of the real world with an overlay of digital content, a vodka bottle can now broadcast its own advertising, show a 3D version of the bottle contents in action, or take the consumer straight to an entertaining microsite or app, all with a quick swipe of the smartphone.


From a drink brand’s perspective, once the consumer brings the bottle home and scans it to reveal this additional information, they have valuable data they can tap in to. This ethically sourced data belongs to the brand owner and opens up a whole new potential channel for engaging with consumers. However, if it is not used to make the product more relevant it risks missing vital opportunities to truly engage on an emotional level.

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