By Chantal Tode
October 18, 2012
Kraft recently piloted an NFC program at select grocery stores, with results showing significantly higher engagement levels compared to QR codes.
For the program, RFID chips that could be read by NFC-enabled smartphones were placed in signage on the shelves right in front of Kraft cheese and Nabisco cookie brands. The shelftalkers invited consumers to tap their smartphones to access dynamic recipe content, download the i-Food Assistant app or share on Facebook.
“The most compelling way to onboard a mobile interaction is using NFC,” said Tim Daly, co-founder of Thinaire, New York. “It is a frictionless technology – you don’t have to download an app.
“When you see a piece of media with a call-to-action, you tap there with your phone and the chip will automatically interact with it when the phone is about 8 inches away,” he said.
“Tap” engagement levels
Kraft, which recently said it will shift 10 percent of its media buy to mobile in 2013, has been actively engaged in trialing mobile technology.
The NFC pilot, which lasted one month, was designed to explore the tap and engage experience offered by NFC. It was in place in five grocery stores in the San Francisco area in August.
In addition to Kraft, the other companies involved in the program were Thinaire, which offers an NFC marketing platform, and in-store marketing company News America Marketing.
NFC vs. QR codes
To date, much of the attention around using mobile to drive consumer engagement for brands has been on text messaging or 2D bar codes such as QR codes.
However, NFC codes offer a more streamlined experience for consumers, per Mr. Daly.
For example, to interact with a QR code, mobile users need to download a special reader, then scan a 2D bar code and tap on a link to access content.
With an NFC-enabled phone, all they need to do is tap a piece of media and the content loads automatically.
Currently, there are not a lot of smartphones that have the NFC technology embedded, limiting its use as a marketing technology. However, this is expected to change over the next couple of years as more phones with the technology become available and marketers look to integrate NFC into their marketing efforts.
Thinaire points to research forecasting there will be 630 million NFC-enabled phones in use by 2015.
NFC technology is also being used by companies such as Google and Isis to enable mobile payments.
Rich mobile experiences
The RFID chips for the Kraft pilot were placed on News America Marketing shelftalker displays in supermarket aisles in front of a specific product. By tapping on the sign, users could access a related recipe – with the recipes changing every week for a month.
In one example, the shelftalkers promoted the launch of a new Philadelphia Indulgence chocolate cream cheese. The shelftalkers appeared in front of the cream cheese flavor as well as in front of Nilla Wafers, with recipes offered for how to use both to create a dessert dish.
When users tapped on the shelftalker, this opened up a screen showing a Nilla Wafer that had a bite taken out of it each time a user touched the screen. Once the wafer was gone, users could access recipes, download the i-Food Assistant app or share on Facebook.
Another deployment appeared in front of Kraft Cheese brands.
News America Marketing plans to roll out the program to other stores over the next 24 months.
As of October 1, 2012, Kraft’s North American grocery business became Kraft Foods Group and its global snacks business became Mondelez International.
“We had a QR code side by side with NFC in the pilot and 92 percent of the interactions were with NFC – that shocked us,” Mr. Daly said.
“The reason why the number is so high is because consumers have had a lot of bad experiences with QR codes and there are a lot of steps necessary to get some value,” he said.