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Shaken not stirred

Kaan Aydogmus, founder of multi-disciplinary design agency and augmented reality specialists, Magnetic London, explains how augmented reality is revolutionizing the drinks industry

Kaan Aydogmus Magnetic London

Augmented reality (AR) is by no means a new concept. Indeed, it’s been around for years and has attracted the attention of many well-known brands. But it’s only recently that the alcoholic drinks industry has begun using this innovative technology to intensify the consumer experience.

For those who are unfamiliar with AR, it simply bridges the gap between print and digital via a smartphone app, which brings text or images ‘to life’. Printed material like product labels and advertisements can host hidden layers of digital content.

Not to be confused with virtual reality, which requires immersive headgear,

AR is cheaper and simpler. All users need to participate is a free-to-download smartphone app, such as Layar, while businesses can commission AR campaigns for as little as £450.

Consumers are becoming evermore discerning. Craft beers, organic wines and uniquely flavoured spirits are now de rigueur. But many of us also want to know where and how our drinks are made, which wines pair well with certain foods, and even how to mix our favourite cocktail. Augmented reality taps into all this and can turn an evening drink into an immersive affair by enhancing the experience.

Back in 2012, Absolut Vodka used AR to stand out from the crowd. It gave its customers the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the world of vodka making. The brand released an app that transported consumers to the Swedish village of Ahus, where it makes its vodka. By scanning a label on a bottle of Absolut Vodka, you could take a 3D tour of the wheat fields of Ahus, explore the distillery, and even see the bottling process – the whole journey, from grain to glass, could be seen.

In the same year, Budweiser augmented its beer cans, so they would transform into a 3D FA cup when scanned with a smartphone. This created quite a buzz, and more than 8.5 million cans featuring this technology were sold.

It’s not all about the drinks themselves, but also the establishments that sell them. Stella Artois used AR to design Le Bar Guide – a punters A to Z of nearby pubs and bars. Hold up your smartphone and the app will recognize your surroundings and point out the nearest vendors of this much-loved beer.

The possibilities of augmented reality are limitless for drinks manufacturers: from augmented labels on bottles of fine wine that ‘come alive’ and take you to the vineyards of France, to a cocktail-making masterclass hidden in the digital layers of an ad campaign for your favourite whisky. AR could even be incorporated into billboards at sponsored events and festivals, to capture the attention of the crowds.

There are considerable rewards to reap from pulling the drinks industry into the digital age – it’s an obvious step forward when it comes to improving the customer experience and energizing your market offering. 

21 December 2015