Diageo unveils Johnnie Walker connected bottle in personalisation push

Johnnie Walker drinkers will be able to receive personalised messages on their bottles in a move owner Diageo will use to track how shoppers interact with the product in-stores.

The drinks maker is kitting out bottles of its top luxury brand with Near Field Communications (NFC) tech to gain the insight. Those bottles can then be used to show targeted messages, whether in stores or after purchase, such as promotional offers, cocktail recipes and exclusive content to people using their smartphones.

The product uses Thinfilm's proprietary tech platform, which can detect whether a bottle has been opened. The technology is being billed as a better alternative to QR codes normally used on bottles, making it easier for Diageo to read and scale across its range.

Diageo can also use the bottle's connectivity to gain better oversight of its "route to consumer", an area the business has highlighted as key to its distribution-focused marketing strategy moving forward.

The connected bottle is the first major initiative from the Diageo Technology Ventures (DTV) initiative, which was launched by the company's futures team last year. The futures team acts as the innovation centre at Diageo and through DTV invited entrepreneurs to apply for a $100,000 grant to bring their ideas to life in partnership with the company.

Helen Michels, global innovation director at Diageo's futures team, said the business wants the move to fuel its learnings on how mobile habits are impacting the way consumers buy and use its products.

“Mobile technology is changing the way we live, and as a consumer brand company we want to embrace its power to deliver amazing new consumer experiences in the future," she added.

“We constantly experiment with the latest cutting edge technologies to enrich and enhance the experiences delivered by our iconic brands. Our collaboration with Thinfilm allows us to explore all the amazing new possibilities enabled by smart-bottles for consumers, retailers and our own business, and it sets the bar for technology innovation in the drinks industry.”

A prototype of the bottle, which uses technology developed by cloud platform Evrythng, will be on display at Mobile World a Congress in Barcelona next week throughout the four day event.

Diageo is not the only alcohol maker to try and digitise its bottles. In 2013, Heineken launched a bottle that lit up when people clinked their beers together as well as flashed in time with music.