BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

German-based Vollherbst LABELS, a 98-year-old premium label printer and fourth-generation family business, has launched LABELinmotion – a digital application brand aiming to disrupt the traditional product labelling industry. LABELinmotion is a sub-brand of and funded from Vollherbst LABELS innovations and marketing budget, which has one single goal: launching one major inspiration or innovation every year.

Launching LABELinmotion

The first step was to design the concept and the brand of its augmented reality app. Vollherbst developed the strategy together with its employees aged 18 to 35 – the main age group targeted by augmented reality applications. After two brainstorm sessions, the company had a concept that was promising enough for it to develop and launch.

“Programming the app and its first augmented reality experience (a ‘lightbulb-example’ where a lightbulb was flashing and finally bursting) was the second step, which was surprisingly easy,” says Vollherbst, who believes that augmented reality is far less complicated than one might think. “The third and (up to now) final step was to bring it to the market and convince clients to give it a try.” The company won the attention of KWV, one of the world’s most admired wine brands and the most admired South African wine brand, as its first partner to develop an augmented reality experience. This also gave LABELinmotion global attention as the Cathedral Cellar brand it was working on is marketed internationally.  “Since then, we have launched two more augmented reality experiences on top of our initial showcase project,” Vollherbst says. “One of them was for Germany-based winery Michel Schneider, and features a lion jumping out of the label and telling jokes!”

Storytelling in action

LABELinmotion is now working with three clients and in talks with more companies that will hopefully join soon. Every additional augmented reality experience in LABELinmotion helps the current users to raise awareness of their own experience as all of them are presented in the app. Vollherbst believes that this is a great network effect “where all the LABELinmotion clients are playing together on an online consumer platform”. 

“LABELinmotion and augmented reality offer us a fantastic new way to tell a story emotionally and excitingly at the point of sales as well as at the point of consumption,” he says. “Brands can use multimedia like videos, sounds, and interactions on their websites and social media. However, in today’s fast-paced world, the way for the consumer to get to these channels is relatively long and there is not necessarily a direct link to the product.”

In contrast, by scanning the label with LABELinmotion, and having the brand experience right on the product, there is no way brands lose their customers through distraction or interruption. That’s why Vollherbst believes that the possibility to interact with consumers has never been as great as it is now with augmented reality labels.

“We should not forget that everything that can be digitalised in the future will be digitalised in the future,” he says. “The sooner we learn how the digital space works and the quicker we learn to understand consumer behaviour in the digital world, the better a brand will perform in the long term. It will be a key success factor to win new customer segments – the Generation Y and Z – especially in the wine business.”

An attractive future

Vollherbst believes that the printing company is still part of a ‘traditional industry’ that focuses on printing and embellishing paper that is glued onto a product, be it a wine bottle or a honey dispenser. And while none of that has changed in recent years, he finds it fascinating to see how entire industries are being disrupted by digitalisation and platform strategies, from Uber in the passenger transportation industry to Netflix in the entertainment industry. 

“I see concepts like that as an opportunity in the label business as well, but also think that to date in our business model it is still crucial to have direct interaction and personal consulting with our clients,” he says. “That’s why it is so important to not only watch but take part in developments like augmented reality labels and innovative print techniques.”

While customers can’t get this from the shelf as a standard, Vollherbst can imagine a day when things might change. “One day there might not be printed papers on bottles anymore,” he says. “Maybe we will 3D-print bottles with integrated labels? I’m sure this will take a lot of years but if it ever happens, we want to keep playing that game and offer our clients what we can do best: a beautiful dress that makes their products more attractive.”

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