Transformational tech is here, now

How innovations in technology are making marketing come alive

Transformational tech is here, now

Waiting for technology to transform promotional marketing? It’s already happening. Stop "exploring options". The digital revolution is in full swing and businesses are pushing boundaries to transform the consumer experience.

So forget "blue-sky thinking" and take a look at four transformational technologies – from promotion to packaging and payments – being used right now to build brands, shift product and engage a new generation of customers.

Building on beacons
Beacon technology can bring big results if you get it right. You can use customers’ smartphones to push tailored notifications when they’re near the store, offering discounts, competitions, loyalty schemes and personalised content, among other things. And, unlike GPS, NFC and Wi-Fi, beacon can pinpoint proximity to about 10cm – so you can tailor messages for each part of the store as people move round it.

Let’s not get too "Big Brother" – it’s only for consenting adults, but it can still be brilliantly effective. French supermarket group Carrefour has beacons in all 28 of its hypermarkets in Romania, alerting customers to offers in each section. Its number of app users grew by 600% in just seven months.

A lovely package
"Don’t judge a book by its cover", the saying goes. Good luck with that. Our research shows that 70% of people are attracted by promotional messages on product packaging. And you can make them even more effective with technology.

Augmented reality gives consumers access to additional on-pack brand content, whether that’s product information, games, offers or competitions. It isn’t that new; Heinz was using the technique back in 2011 on its ketchup, so consumers who downloaded an app could use the camera on their phone to "read" the bottle, with recipe pages appearing on it. 

NFC sensor tags can achieve a similar level of engagement: last year Malibu launched bottles with labels consumers could tap with their phones to instantly enter a prize draw.

Pay up
Mobile payments may be old hat, but we’re still finding new ways to use the data. While it’s about convenience to the consumer, for business it’s an amazing source of real-time customer insight.

Yoyo Wallet is one company that has spotted the opportunity – combining a mobile payment system with a loyalty tool for retailers to engage customers in-store. Meanwhile, Starbucks is ahead of the pack: since 2012, its My Starbucks Rewards app has helped the coffee chain in the UK track consumer purchases, gather consumer spending data and promote loyalty.

Say that again…
Amazon Echo launched in the US only in 2014, but has already sold four million units. Last year it was rolled out in the UK and Germany, too. Combining a Wi-Fi speaker and Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, it can complete more than 3,000 services "skills" – from playing a song to looking something up or ordering a pizza. 

Brands developing their own "skills" aren’t tapping a new marketing channel; they’re preparing for the old one closing down. Voice is the future, taking over from apps. Being an early adopter pays: US bank Capital One was one of the first to work with Amazon, and its "skill", allowing customers to get account information from Alexa, is one of the top-rated to date.

These are all real tools being used today for real results. So, if you’re wondering what the future of promotional marketing looks like, start with what’s already at your disposal, match your brand to these innovations by employing some creative thinking, and put it to the test.

To download your free ebook, How New Technology is Driving Promotional Marketing, go to

Chris Baldwin is director of consumer promotions and loyalty at Sodexo