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The New 'It' Tool for Branding Products and Services

Companies are turning to RFID to engage consumers via social media and interactive ads and promotions.
By Jennifer Zaino
Dec 02, 2013

Since marketing came of age as a business discipline in the early 1900s, generations of consumers have found themselves the passive recipients of pitches designed to communicate the value of products and services, to encourage immediate purchases and engender long-term loyalty. Companies have built their brands and boosted their revenues with print and broadcast media, and, more recently, e-mail and the Web.

Now, companies are taking marketing to the next level by using radio frequency identification—in particular, Near Field Communication technology—to make their campaigns more personal and create experiences, at events and in stores, that entice consumers into being active participants. RFID marketing efforts focus on improving brand awareness, loyalty and sales through social media and interactive advertisements and promotions.

RFID is an important part of Vail Resorts' EpicMix social-media tools, because it doesn't make the skier work for the benefits. Guests can track on-mountain stats and share professional photos taken on trails in near-real time. (Photo: Jack Affleck)
Some RFID firms that provide access-control solutions now offer applications that enable event attendees to share their experiences with friends via social-networking sites (see RFID News Roundup: Intellitix Links RFID and Facebook at Coachella Festival and Nike Korea, Nestlé Philippines Like U-Like). The Connect & Go system, developed by RFID Academia, was used at the 2013 Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, in Montreal. Attendees were issued RFID bracelets to access the event, post photos on Facebook at RFID-enabled kiosks and enter contests to win prizes.

There also are startup marketing firms worldwide that specialize in using RFID technologies. Blue Bite, Gauge Mobile and Proxama, for example, offer NFC systems that deliver digital media content—including ads, coupons and video promotions—to mobile phone users within targeted geographic locations. Blondefish, dwinQ, Liquid Lemon, Mediamatic Lab and Publicis E-dologic use RFID at events to connect attendees to their social networks. Cubocc and Pittsfield ID Technologies are among the companies that rely on RFID for in-store marketing and branding solutions.

Consumers seem to like participating in RFID-enabled marketing campaigns—whether it's posting photos from an activity or event on Facebook in real time, joining a loyalty program to receive on-the-spot discounts, or holding an NFC-enabled mobile phone up to a smart billboard to download exclusive video content about a movie being advertised.

That's one reason Lexus, Vail Resorts and other forward-thinking companies that have employed RFID marketing campaigns believe they are getting a return on their investment. "When people choose to reach out and touch, your engagement factor is going to be higher because they have decided that they want something," says Debbie Arnold, NFC Forum director. "And because it's easy, they will want to do it again."

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