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Danone Asia trials NFC to enhance in-store consumer connections

An example of the Danone NFC tags

International food manufacturer Danone’s baby nutrition Asia division is testing NFC technology in Singapore to educate moms on parenting resources.

The test is part of a four-month trial that Danone is using to place nearly 700 NFC-enabled tags through Singapore supermarkets, clinics and retail locations. Danone is working with Think&Go NFC to power this campaign.

“One of the first pilots we started was around mobile solutions in combination with NFC,” said Freddy Portier, global program director at Danone Information Services, Amsterdam.

“The thought behind this was to explore enhanced consumer connections,” he said.

“Basically it is about new ways of reaching out to our consumers by providing services and information via their mobile phone to make it more convenient, easy and accessible.”

Danone products are available in more than 120 countries and aims to bring healthy food to consumers with a focus on dairy, water, baby nutrition and medical nutrition products.

Connected moms
The roll out of the Danone trial began in January and will continue until April.

The NFC tags have been distributed on marketing materials at 400 homes, in 28 clinics and in 10 retail stores. For example, the NFC tags are being placed on shelves with Danone products in selected FairPrice retail locations in Singapore.

As part of the trial, Danone and Think&Go equipped 100 moms in Singapore with NFC-enabled mobile phones to show consumers how the technology works.

After showing moms how to use NFC, the program has generated 10,000 taps per month resulting in 20,000 taps over the two month trial. The data points to how education will need to be a critical part of mobile payment adoption.

According to the companies, the trial has seen that the participants are enthusiastic about the program and the findings will be used to draw more conclusions about how consumers’ mobile behavior and interests.

Cultural game
The Danone trial is the latest example of an NFC trial to teach consumers on how to use NFC. In particular, many NFC initiatives are still taking place internationally.

However, what is unique about the Danone example is that the NFC initiative is being used with a major consumer packaged goods company, showing how brands can leverage the technology.

Most recently, Mastercard worked with a movie theater chain in Australia to let guests pay for food and drink items via an NFC sticker on their seats and a mobile application (see story).

The gap between NFC initiatives in the United States and internationally signals that although many mobile experts talk about the opportunities available in the U.S., the technology and consumer adoption might not be there yet  for mobile payments to catch on.

In the U.S., the mobile payment race continues between cloud-based services and NFC. Google’s Wallet program has partnered with many retailers, but the service is only available on one type of phone – Sprint’s Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Additionally, ISIS — the joint venture between Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA — is expected to gain traction once trials go live in April in Austin, TX and Salt Lake City, UT.

“The successful deployment of NFC will come from NFC applications that fully changes processes or brings technological breakthrough like NFC shopping,” said Vincent Berge, cofounder/CEO of Think&Go NFC, Meyreuil, France.

“2012 is the year for discovering and testing new services and waiting for full deployment in 2013-2014,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York