Vodka maker Absolut is launching its “Connected Bottles” programme in 2016, experimenting with smart packaging in a number of different markets.
Although it is not yet clear what added functionality the Internet-connected bottles will have, the aim is to transition Absolut from being simply a manufacturer of products to a deliverer of services.
By introducing added connectivity, it is hoped that the bottles can be turned into a media channel that extends the customer relationship post-sale. Markus Wulff, digital creative business developer at Absolut, stresses that the company’s adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) is not simply a way for marketers to gain extra consumer data.
“One of the big questions for us is how we can put the product in a context where it adds value to the consumer,” he said in an interview with The Drum. “What if we created something that was a digital touchpoint, which could extend the relationship with the consumer and give them added value in terms of services and partnerships.”
In advance of the connected bottle launch next year, Absolut has already experimented with a number of different IoT trials. The vodka brand created a demonstration unit with six different scenarios that could benefit from connected products. A range of technologies were tested, including NFC, Bluetooth, Eddystone, QR codes and image recognition, and trials took place both internally and with a select number of consumers.
One example developed by Absolut’s parent company, Pernod Ricard, is a connected cocktail maker dubbed “Project Gutenberg.” The device uses its online connection to order replacement spirits when needed and deliver personalised offers. With so many different innovation projects underway at the company, it is difficult to know which ones will gain traction with consumers. However, what is clear is that the 100 million bottles of Absolut produced each year offer a significant marketing and services opportunity if businesses can effectively harness IoT technologies.
Many other drinks brands are also joining the IoT revolution in order to bring added value to the consumer. Coca Cola already makes extensive use of Internet-connected vending machines to streamline the re-stocking process and gather information on which flavours are proving most popular.