Five Reasons to use On-Pack Promotions to Drive Consumers Online

Posted in Consumer Promotions and Loyalty, Consumer Promotions, Brand Promotions, Consumer Engagement, Promotional Ideas, Engage People, Customer engagement, Promotional activities, Customer loyalty programmes, Promotional campaign

Taking the journey from the store to the screen

Tangerine Confectionery is one of the latest brands to use an online mechanic in its on-pack promotion. The promotion drives consumers to a dedicated website to complete their competition entry in the retro sweet brand's biggest on-pack campaign to date.

But what are the advantages of guiding participants from the store to a digital platform? And how can brands ensure that they capitalise on the opportunity without demanding too much of their consumers' time? We look at five key reasons.


Collecting competition or promotional entry data online is easier and more cost effective than trying to gather paper entries, which are often held and discarded by the retailer. This can mean the brand runs the risk of losing valuable customer acquisition opportunities, resulting in a lot of wastage for brands.  

Capturing seamless data on entrants who have just engaged with a company, and putting them into an owned database, allows businesses to build direct relationships with consumers who are already ‘warm.’ This offers the opportunity to generate long term brand loyalty and repeat sales.

Take the example of postcode data. Asking consumers to subscribe by inputting their postcode can enable brands to inform people of the next product promotion in their area, widening the pool of relevant consumers. People who have opted in to hear from the brand again are also more likely to make a purchase, particularly if they are made aware of the nearest retailer stocking the product.

Collecting data online can give brands a clearer picture of where promotions are most effective and what consumers really think of your promotions, too; enabling them to prioritise the next round of the campaign, and/or future activity. It also enables marketing departments to accurately work out the ROI of each activity, and reduce the costs of consumer acquisition and data collection.


In the past, Louise Isaacs, formerly at Tesco Clubcard creator Dunnhumby, and also at Nectar, and now Vice President Marketing EMEA at Bank Partnerships, has urged brands to put conditions around offers to encourage positive behaviour. “Ask for something in return – some information about consumers that will help you to learn how to change behaviour.”

She has previously cited the Threshers 40% off voucher distributed in 2006 as an example of a campaign that lacked effective data capture, despite its popularity among consumers. “It had so many people coming into the stores, but it didn’t collect enough data to really inform future offers. It drove footfall but it was a wasted opportunity in this respect,” she said.

Other brands have seen great success. In 2011, global organic baby food company, Ella’s Kitchen ran an ‘Ella’s Friends conversion strategy’, which involved harnessing digital techniques to grow the database of ‘Friends’ to the target level. Working with Wickedweb, one aspect of the work saw the brand partner with the Early Learning Centre (ELC), with an integrated on pack promotion offering 20% off merchandise in ELC stores, and a daily competition to win £100 of toys using a SMS mechanic – both designed to encourage data capture.  The three month campaign attracted 12,672 entries, of which 89.9% were new ‘Friends’.


Today, consumers are savvy to sales promotions and expect to complete offers or competition entries online, and, in return, will share data with brands they trust.  But don’t ask for the consumer’s life history – ensure the time commitment matches the incentive or it will backfire.

Be clever with your questions – stick to one or two aimed at gathering data that supports your objectives. Once basic information has been shared, brands can remarket to consumers via email or text, for example, or engage with them on social media, gathering further insights as they go.

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Driving customers online can also enable companies to engage consumers more deeply with their brand. The digital space offers a great medium to engage and bring a company’s narrative to life in an interactive way. And it has worked for some of the biggest brands…


In 2008, Coca Cola wanted to do just this. It built an interactive virtual environment with web content, called the Coke Zone, designed to reach the notoriously hard-to-impress teen market. The work, carried out by Amia, was based around a rewards programme that combined a web experience with promotions designed to capture interest and drive customer insight back into the programme.

It used an on-pack code entry to engage loyal Coke consumers with prize draw entries, rewards and experiences. A Christmas social media campaign was also executed, giving consumers the opportunity to tweet personal Christmas messages that appeared on the Piccadilly Circus sign in London.

The promotion was designed to increase the brand’s Twitter followers and acquire new Coke Zone members.


In 2012, Aimia reported that the activity was the most successful packaged goods programme online in the UK, as measured by average dwell time, page views and unique visitor numbers. It also generated highly positive ROI, based on observed consumption uplift of members participating in the two leading grocers in the country, with strong enrolment among the key hard-to-reach audience of teens and young adults.

Again, driving consumers from in-store to online can be a hugely effective way of engaging with them and engendering loyalty.

Content must be consistently highly relevant to the audience and regularly updated to encourage repeat visits. Identify what behaviour you want to encourage from visitors, and be clear about what success will look like.


Instead of relying on consumers to fill out and post a form or save a paper coupon for redemption, enabling them to enter the promotion or competition on the spot via their mobile, or on their desktop when they are in ‘lean forward’ mode (ie actively looking for content) at home, can improve conversion rate. But only if you are well prepared for each entry route.

Think about how consumers will engage – on mobile or desktop, or via a social media platform on one of these mediums – and ensure the entry mechanism is well designed to encourage quick and easy data capture.


Last year, Mondelēz International brands Maynards, Bassetts and the Natural Confectionery Company ran their biggest-ever on-pack promotion, created by Initials and featured on 21 million packs. Titled, ‘Win Nothing But Fun Every Day’ the campaign saw everyone who entered win a prize or reward.

The company ensured that consumers had a choice of entry mechanisms to ensure the maximum number of entrants. Each promotional pack carried a unique eight-digit code that could be entered online via a dedicated microsite, or on the go via a mobile optimised version of the site.  Making it as easy to enter and offering a choice of mechanisms is key.


IGD’s ShopperVista tracking data (2014) shows that 22% of online shoppers now use a smartphone and 27% a tablet device. When implementing a mobile mechanism, think about the fact that consumers might have Android or iPhone devices, and optimise for both operating systems.

Is SMS, app, web or social media the most relevant entry route for your audience and promotion – or do you need to enable all of these?


Finally, make it easy for consumers to amplify the promotion or competition via social media; embed a ‘share’ button into the mechanic for the most relevant social media platform for your audience.


Microsites are one popular mechanism that allows consumers to interact with a brand online. Acting as mini-websites populated with very targeted content, they can add an extra dimension to on-pack activity, giving customers an easy way to redeem prizes, enter competitions and register for further information.


In their simplest form, branded microsites can be used as part of prize promotions to allow consumers to check whether or not they’ve won by entering a unique on-pack code. But a more elaborate use of a micro-site – and one which requires greater investment – is as an interactive brand experience which hosts games, videos and digital downloads, for example. This encourages consumers to re-engage on an ongoing basis throughout the campaign period.

A good example is Doritos, which in 2011 wanted to grow its ‘Dips’ product line among 16-44 years olds in the UK. It launched an awareness campaign centred around a mobile game, which was supported in part by on-pack promotions.

The on-pack promotion was designed to drive trial and increase frequency of dual-purchase for chips and dips, with consumers able to redeem promotions within the game. The activity attracted over 1.6 million game plays and visits to the Doritos mobile site rose from 939 a week to 38,648 in a week during the campaign. The activity drove growth for the Doritos Dips business in 2011.


Striking a balance between entertainment and more targeted commercial activity can also work well. Several years ago, Honda launched a series of free mobile downloads to promote its involvement in Formula One.

Consumers could redeem ringtones and wallpapers by text message or a branded mobile website. But the company also offered mini-brochures and test drives to ensure the campaign had an impact on the bottom line. Done sensitively, this approach can help to support specific commercial goals off the back of entertaining content.


An on-pack promotion or in-store display can only communicate a limited amount of information about a brand’s ethos and values, yet these are often what differentiates it from competitors.  

Consumers are more likely to assimilate information if it is engaging – perhaps with an element of interaction – rather than in text format in-store, for example, and online offers a means of achieving this. Once you have moved customers into the digital space there are endless opportunities to bring brand personality to life in an imaginative way.


Several years ago, smoothie brand, Innocent launched a campaign called Buy One Get One Tree, which urged drinkers to register the unique code from each carton on a microsite. For each redemption, Innocent planted a new tree in rural Africa or India and a virtual tree online. This could be labelled with a message, sent to a friend and planted in a virtual forest.

The promotion reinforced the brand’s green credentials and demonstrated its principles. The online redemption prompted 164,020 consumers to register to plant trees, more than the initial target of 100,000, while 18,335 new members joined Innocent on the strength of the campaign. It was an effective way to ensure that the smoothie brand was strongly aligned with caring for the environment.


Other brands use the digital space to reinforce their singular appeal. In 2013, Levi Roots ran a nationwide on-pack promotion offering consumers the chance to turn musical notes into bank notes. It gave entrants the chance to win instant cash when they went online and entered the unique code hidden on the reverse of every pack label. This enabled them to play an interactive reggae music game and win £10 notes, supporting the brand’s strapline, ‘put some music in your glass’.

The game and its theme communicated the brand’s association with the reggae genre, and reinforced the personality of the company’s founder – a Jamaican musician and entrepreneur – without seemingly thrusting information upon people.

Digital can elevate brands’ on-pack sales promotions to the next level, achieving greater effectiveness and generating real ROI.

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