Malibu launches a smart bottle that delivers content to consumer smartphones via NFC

Malibu, the world’s number one coconut flavoured rum, is celebrating a global first with the largest deployment of near field communication (NFC) enabled bottles.

The bottles will be sold in 1,600 Tesco stores in the UK in partnership with SharpEnd, the first Internet of Things (IoT) agency. The trial is part of an ongoing strategy to own the area of summer to engage the target audience of young adults that demands that Malibu is dynamic and innovative.

The exciting pilot is a result of work done through the IoT innovation lab at Malibu’s Head Office, in Stockholm. Launched at the end of last year, the lab tests scalable growth opportunities for connected products, services and experiences driven by technology innovation to support #becausesummer moments – the occasions where consumers are more open to doing the things they want to do, because it’s summer.

The connected Malibu bottle is designed to shake up how consumers interact with products. As a global icon of summer Malibu constantly experiments with innovative technology to make consumers’ experiences the best summer of their lives. Using NFC tags – which are applied to the bottles by passing them through a heat tunnel – the intricate process allows the tags to remain intact and readable by smartphones after application.

Cameron Worth, SharpEnd founder
Cameron Worth, founder, SharpEnd

Consumers can use their mobile browsers to unlock the following five digital experiences to enhance the #BecauseSummer experience by simply tapping their smartphones against the Malibu sunset:

  1. Instant-win competition: Tap to win UE Boom speakers
  2. #BecauseSummer user-generated-content competition – upload a summer snap and receive a personalised image (using Google cloud API[k1]) and entrance into a prize draw to win the ultimate summer experience in Barbados (7 nights all-inclusive)
  3. Bartender in a bottle – drinks recipes
  4. Bar locator – uses the consumer’s geo-location to find the nearest Malibu bar and alfresco drinking spots
  5. Playlist – connects to Malibu mixcloud sharing playlists from Groove Armada, Marvin Humes, Clean Bandit and more

While small-scale trials with connected bottles have been run before, this is the very first high volume trial of its kind. The NFC technology will feature on 40,000 Malibu bottles in the period up to December 31st to help consumers experience a #BecauseSummer moment. The trial will focus on two key consumer tech issues:

  • Ease of use – Unlike QR codes, NFC offers a high level of control. When a smartphone is tapped against or waved over a product, the task written to the tag is carried out immediately. No apps are needed
  • Data privacy – Despite NFC being a less intrusive method of gathering customer data, compared with Bluetooth beacons, for example, it has not previously been tested at this scale. Malibu will take advantage of this opportunity by monitoring consumer appetite, specifically how the product is purchased and consumed

Recent research carried out by SharpEnd and marketing company Mindshare found that 62% of consumers are willing to let brands and connected products collect data if they receive something of perceived value in exchange. However, if the effort of interaction outweighs those recognised benefits, consumer engagement is likely to lessen. With the IoT industry predicted to be worth $531 billion to the UK economy by 2030, connected products are set to play an increasing role in providing services in the home and collecting and utilising data to streamline our daily lives.

malibu_images_2408On the impact connected bottles could have, Markus Wulff, Digital Innovation manager at Malibu, said: “By embracing suitable and scalable technologies onto our packaging, we can turn each bottle into a direct, digital touch point for consumers all across the world.”

Cameron Worth, SharpEnd founder, added: “Bottles are now able to drive localised content, providing an entirely new way to communicate with consumers and bringing the brand directly in front of their target audience, presenting the opportunity to drive brand loyalty through service delivery.”

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