o start, interaction in print is by no means a new initiative. Companies, marketers and brands have been including features such as QR codes on printed materials for some time now, offering the consumer the opportunity to find out more about a product or service without having to actually Google it themselves.

However, what has been interesting to monitor is exactly how technologies like QR codes are being used to bring added value to printed pieces. This may be something as simple as a QR code on printed packaging; rather than directing the consumer to a dull page of text, it instead leads them to all sorts of interesting, additional content to improve the overall experience of the product or service in question.

Of course, we have seen QR codes expand into the digital world, with adverts on television and digital signage now carrying QR codes that consumers can scan to unlock extra content. But it is within the print sector where this form of interactivity seems to have come on the most.

However, the question remains – what is the real value of this interaction? Is it just a way of shovelling more information down the throat of the consumer, or, if it is more than that, what exactly can printers achieve in partnership with their own clients? How can printers and brands continue to push the boundaries of what is possible with this interaction?

Opening a pathway to new opportunities

Perhaps the best way of evaluating how far this sector has come is by looking at some of the most recent examples of interaction with print. At the time of writing, supermarket shelves are stacked full of Christmas goodies, which bring with them a range of interactive features to help spread festive cheer.

Picking out one example that caught the eye, world famous chocolatier Lindt has released a special edition advent calendar that offers all the fun and tastiness of a traditional Christmas countdown, with the added benefit of interaction with the consumer by using augmented reality (AR).

Consumers are invited to scan the QR code with their mobile device and gain access to extra content, featuring everything from sleigh rides across snowy landscapes, snowball fights and even the ability to decorate your own festive gingerbread biscuits. Those that purchase the calendar can enjoy 24 fun activities – one for each window of the chocolate advent calendar – as they count down the days until Christmas.

Of course, none of this additional content is print-based and will not bring any additional work to the industry. However, what it does do is serve as an excellent example of print and digital technologies being combined to offer; it allows printing companies to say to brands: “Look what we can help you achieve with a simple QR code!”

It can also be argued that adding this level of interactivity warrants a higher purchase price. Lindt is often more expensive than your standard chocolate, but at a RRP price of £12, the calendar will set consumers back much more than standard calendars that can be priced as low as £1 but offer little in terms of added value in the form of AR.