In summer 2014, a serendipitous conversation between two neighbors in Cognac, France, led to the creation of a radio frequency identification solution that promises to fight counterfeiting of high-end cognac in China and improve customer relations.
The cellar master at Rémy Martin, a cognac producer steeped in tradition, and one of the leaders at Selinko, a new firm that uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to authenticate and market spirits and other products, were having a chat about bottling. As it turns out, Rémy Martin was looking for a way to combat fraud and connect with its consumers online, and Selinko had a solution that could meet its needs.
"Everyone wants to fight counterfeiting in the spirits industry," says Arjan Ackerman, Rémy Martin's digital director. "We saw this as the opportunity to reassure our consumers that the bottle is genuine and to create an experience for our consumers, providing even more value by establishing an interactive relationship with them."
Rémy Martin asked Selinko to create a "connected bottle" that would combine CapSeal technology with the ability to maintain a connection with customers once a bottle is opened. Rémy Martin requested this new technology for its Club cognac, a high-end beverage popular with Chinese connoisseurs.
The result, one year later, is the Club Connected bottle, which accomplishes the two things Rémy Martin required. On the business front, it uses NFC to prevent counterfeiting and record bottle openings. And on the marketing front, the new bottle opens a world of interactive engagement, transmitting information to Club consumers by way of a dedicated smartphone application. The app includes a loyalty program, with reward points awarded for opening Club Connected bottles and engaging with the company via that platform. Club Connected is being introduced to markets in China, with the first full shipments expected to take place in Fall 2015.
"I wish we could tell you about a big study," says Florence Puech, Rémy Martin's communication director, "but it was really just one human connection."
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