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Dippin? Dots treats customers to gamified loyalty program via augmented reality

Frozen confectionary treat Dippin? Dots has launched what the brand claims is the first fully interactive mobile site that integrates augmented reality with a loyalty program to satiate consumer cravings for genuine connections.

Using Rocktops Digital Media?s patented Bubandu platform and augmented reality viewer application, Dippin' Dots customers are able to earn points by scanning markers on product packaging which can be exchanged for free ice cream and personalized merchandise through the new Dot Crazy! Rewards program. The superimposition of digital data, videos, images and sound over-real world images and physical objects is quickly becoming a marketing phenomenon as augmented reality tech is used to deliver new immersive experiences that mix engagement, information and fun.

?Consumers used to feel a genuine connection when interacting with brands on the Web, and we wanted to take the connection back to how it was before popups and inundated information marketing,? said RockTops? digital media CEO Randy Asselin.

?The way you see Dippin? Dots and interact with it on Bubandu gets back to that more intimate connection without spam and is limitless as the same platform that houses the augmented reality viewer also works for loyalty and a new experience for their mobile site in a universal approach that differs from unattractive QR codes that don?t take you anywhere great,? he said.

Augmenting loyalty
Bubandu app users may scan Dippin' Dots products for points within the app and redeem accrued earnings through an external, mobile optimized Dot Crazy! site.

Users may activate the app in-store to see the spherical treat rain down on the screens of their mobile device. This can be replicated from anywhere by scanning markers on the native Web site. Games are also available to add a level of engagement.

Dippin? Dots has felt the slump of the economy since its downturn in 2008 where it struggled with declined sales and a debt of nearly $12 million, which consequently caused it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011. The product image faded, and with many other competitors and imitators, the brand needed to keep up, and is doing so via finding solutions in mobile.

?Although this impacted our brand we got through it with new ownership that breathed a new life into us,? said Dana Knudsen, director of marketing and graphic design at Dippin? Dots.

?We always try to look at pop culture and technology.?

?While filing for Chapter 11 prohibited us from pursuing things we normally would have gone after, we are now able to look at those goals are realize them,? she said.

Mobile is transforming consumer path to purchase, and it was not so long ago that QR codes dominated the CPG and retail industry as a tool to digitize traditional media. However, the development of augmented reality and like technologies allow for a conversely immediate payoff and richer experience despite requiring the download of an app.

The main contributor to why QR codes have failed to accelerate their growth is the amount of effort put into scanning a single code.

Dippin? Dots offers something outside of QR codes through a part loyalty and discount program, part immersive product finder that is more easily accessible, engaging and fun.

Branded destination experiences
As augmented reality evolves, retailers are increasingly using the technology to engage consumers and draw them in-store, as strategic and creative campaigns have the capacity to build foot traffic, increase basket size, collect purchasing data, and build brand loyalty, though there are certain elements that contribute for a successful deployment in retail.

Starting with a strategic focus allows for AR to be leveraged to its full potential, and is most exciting when tied to a clear, measurable business goal. Examples might be to drive sweepstakes entries, email newsletter sign-ups, coupon redemptions or even full-price purchases of specific products.

In the early days of AR Hallmark allowed customers to send Christmas Cards with an augmented reality experience that greeted viewers with a nostalgic rendition of ?Jingle Bells? along with an amusing image of a sleigh moving through freshly fallen snow. To extend the good feelings, an offer to shop was included as a gesture of customer appreciation.

For every $1 the retailer invested, $28 of revenue was generated. A success that demonstrates not only the value of interactive touch points, but the profitability of engaging loyal customers emotionally as individuals.

Considering custom AR experiences allows for a brand?s meaningfulness to go beyond static advertising to enables customers to interact directly with a product and customize dimensions. Walgreens most recently is piloting Google?s new virtual indoor mapping technology that delivers personalized and discoverable rewards to shoppers using augmented reality for a bricks-and-clicks experience.

Integrating AR with real-world environments is key, as the tech can seamlessly connect Web services to physical content. Pepsi recently took its use of AR to the next level in a campaign that turned a bus shelter?s walls into a fake window that appeared to show a number of different unlikely scenarios happening on the street behind, such as flying saucers descending, a robot attacking and a tiger running loose.

As consumers are busier than ever, it now takes something innovative and surprising that is offered by AR mechanics to create immersive experiences that surprise and delight. The opportunities to integrate different content types means a brand or retailer can add a memorable dimension and lead ongoing consumer engagement.

?Dippin? Dots has a cultish following of folks under 24 and that?s a phenomenal thing for a brand,? Mr. Asselin said.

?Many other augmented reality use cases have no economic value to either party and are immersive and fun but you couldn?t create an economy of it.?

?We are evolving it to the point where it can be used in everyday life and augment someone?s lifestyle to fill informational gaps and create tighter bonds,? he said.

 Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York