Pernod Ricard to roll out connected ‘smart’ bottles across brands

Pernod Ricard is rolling out ‘fully-connected’ bottles with individual QR codes across its brands that will give users info on the brand, provenance and nutritional content via their smartphones.

It follows the introduction of a fully-connected bottle that has already launched on the Chinese market, which was designed not only as a marketing device, but also to protect the company’s brands against counterfeit products.

Sparking at a Pernod Ricard Roundtable today, Chairman and CEO Alexandre Ricard said traceability was a “legitimate demand” for consumers, who expected more and more information from a brand in terms of provenance and the supply chain.

”We believe in today’s world better to inform customers via their connected devices. It is as simple as that, a more modern, forward-looking way of doing things,” he said. “100% of our consumers are close to that connectivity. If you scan it, you have better access to the information you require versus trying to read the back label, which has a lot so legalistic information too.”

“Most of our brands have a home, a heritage and a provenance, so that is critical for consumers to scan a QR code on any of our labels and get information on traceability that we have.”

He confirmed that the initiative would be rolled out market by market “in the coming weeks” with information on “everything”, from provenance to nutrition, terroir and brand experience.

“Our brands have website with a lots of information and you can expect that information to be more detailed, interesting and insightful as we enrich that content.

It would also help fight counterfeiting in certain markets, he added.

“Being able to trace a bottle and make sure you can see it’s a true, authentic product is key in some markets that have those issues. Connected bottles, QR codes and digital is going to be a big competitive advance for big players that have real brands versus counterfeit ones. And there is a lot going on in that,” he said.

Digital Boost

The move is part of a wider strategy to boost its digital comms with consumers, which Ricard described as a “key business strategy accelerator”.

“Direct to consumer interaction is critical for brands and having direct feedback from consumer exchanges and interaction with the consumer is criticial,” he said. “Having that relationship with consumers is the way forward and we’ve invested a lot in information and gathering data online to better understand consumers.”

He said utilising that insight to improve brand messaging and positional was more also key.

“You can’t rely on a third-party to know your customers.”

However he drew a distinction between direct-to-consumer communication (“touchpoints”) and direct-to-consumer transactions, which provided more logistics and supply chain challenges.  Online sales currently stand at 3% across all markets, or 6% in the UK, which includes sales with partners such as Tesco.com, Amazon and digital store-within-store concepts with Alibaba.

“It is the fastest growing channel not only for Pernod Ricard but for the whole industry,” he said.

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