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Kraft NFC pilot delivers 12 times the engagement level of QR codes

October 18, 2012

Kraft's NFC-powered shelftalker

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.

The results from the pilot include that the overall NFC “tap” engagement level was 12 times higher than for QR codes, which also appeared on the signs. Additionally, more than 36 percent of shoppers who tapped the NFC-enhanced shelftalker converted into an action, such as saving a recipe, downloading the Kraft app or sharing with friends.

Additionally, the amount of time consumers spent engaged with the brand was 48 seconds when NFC was involved. This is significantly higher than the five to 10 seconds consumers typically spend at the shelf choosing a product.

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.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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6 Responses to “Kraft NFC pilot delivers 12 times the engagement level of QR codes”

  1. BD 807 Says:

    Very compelling. 12-1 seems shockingly high but pays to the excitement that new NFC enambled phone owners have. I imagine galaxy s3 sales are up tremendously with their recent anti- iPhone 5 campaign. Would love to know gross engagement numbers here but I’m not as surprised by the volume of NfC activities…than I am at how tired qR scanning seems to be. My guess for this disparity it the cool factor vs the bore factor. Even with qr enablement at close to full capacity… People either don’t want to go t the trouble or have experienced so little love from doing so…they don’t . It’s up to NFC proponents to make sure that as chip costs come down…the quality of the engagement justify even the friction-free act required

  2. Alex Winterhalt Says:

    The reason why the engagement levels were so high in this experiment are stated at the beginning of the article: “The shelftalkers invited consumers to tap their smartphones to access dynamic recipe content, download the i-Food Assistant app or share on Facebook”.

    With this approach, results would have been as good, if not better with QR or any other technology.

    Other than that, anyone who knows a bit about retail also knows that NFC isn’t going to take off, and that’s purely because of economic reasons.

  3. JT Thayer Says:

    This is a great article and the metrics on QR Code engagement versus NFC engagements is encouraging for us at CityLife MOBILE. We design and manage SMS, QR Codes and NFC tag Campaigns into each of our iPosters ( posters) integrated in our convenience store mobile solutions. We thought market acceptance of NFC engagements would be a 2013-14 market adoption like QR Codes were in 2011. It is indeed nice to see it is now advancing more quickly.

  4. Andrew Kese Says:

    This application of marketing vs. payments is a better place for NFC to gain acceptance. It’s how QR codes started, but still does not address he cost (time, $) for user and advertiser to put the hardware in place.

    The numbers quoted beg the question…92% of how many interactions 10s? 100s? 1000s? Usually when not published it means lower end. Regardless knowing the total number of interactions would be insightful.

  5. Mark Says:

    There is some confusion in this article:
    1. Is it transactional. It does not appear to be;
    2. RFID is not NFC. NFC is a subset of RFID. RFID can have a working range of 40′ while NFC is 3″;
    3. The (likely) problem with QR codes in this scenario is it requires the user to activate an app. If a Passbook app was installed with locational awareness this problem would be avoided as the right information could be automatically displayed. This would overcome the friction Kraft is talking about.

    This is another example of the card networks obfuscating the truth about payments.

    Reminds me of statistics. Whats is the definition of statistics: lies, lies, lies. Apparently 74% of statistics are fabricated just like this story. lol

  6. Craig Leonardi Says:

    It is very exciting to see that NFC Tags had such a significantly higher response rate than QR codes. I certainly agree that as an app in not required the experience has less friction than QR. However the “bad experiences” with QR codes that Tim Daly calls out have less to do with the technology and more to do with the execution. Weak or no Call to Action, codes linking to content that is not in a mobile friendly format or worse content that is not relevant to a mobile user, are the things that make up the majority of bad experiences. So while NFC may be more appealing in many use cases than QR or SMS for example, it’s an art to execute good mobile campaigns. Simply slapping QR codes or NFC Tags on badly constructed campaigns will not garnish good results.

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