Will Google’s new Lens tool affect how packaging is designed?

by | Feb 1, 2019 | Branding with impact, Strategically thinking through the design process

Ever since Google rolled out the Lens visual search feature to the Google app for iOS in December last year(2018), the question for both packaging designers and Brand marketers alike is how will Google’s new Lens tool affect how packaging is designed?

What is Google’s new Lens tool?

Google Lens is an image recognition mobile app developed by Google. Google Lens is designed to bring up relevant information using visual analysis.

When directing the phone’s camera at an object, Google Lens will attempt to identify the object or read labels and text and show relevant search results and information.

Google officially launched Google Lens on October 4, 2017, with app previews pre-installed into the Google Pixel 2. On March 5, 2018, Google officially released Google Lens to Google Photos on non-Pixel phones.

On the 10th of December last year( 2018) Google made Lens available for iPhone users.

How Google Lens tool works

When one directs the phone’s camera at an object, the Google Lens will attempt to identify the object or read labels and text and show relevant search results and information.

So for example, when pointing the device’s camera at a REAL ESTATE sign outside a home, Google Lens will automatically connect to the relevant websites containing all the information with regards that home. 

One can even point the phone’s camera a say a dog, and Google Lens will automatically look for the name and breed and everything of relevance with regards that particular dog.

So how will Google’s new Lens tool affect how packaging is designed?

Well, the first conclusion one immediately can jump to is that simply because Google’s new Lens tool is readily available people will use it prolifically.

If this did happen then packaging designers would only need to feature the main HERO benefit of the particular product and forgo everything else.

Why because people will simply use the Google Lens tool and it would direct them to a page with all the relevant product and promotional reference information. Enough information for them to choose the product and put it into their shopping basket.

QR Codes

Whilst this is a new Google technology, “point and click” has been around for a while. Remember the old QR codes? Remember how they were going to revolutionise the way consumers bought stuff. Apparently not! Whilst some consumers did download the app and would use it to translate the QR codes, it was too much like hard work for most consumers


Blippar was a form of so-called augmented reality (AR) that would allow a user point their smartphone at an object and be given information about it via their Blippar app. on an app.

Whilst a brilliant piece of technology, the consumer take up was too slow and in December 2018 the company let go of all of it’s employees as it went into administration.

So the big question is WHY? Are consumers just not savvy enough to use augmented reality type technologies? 

Before designers and Brand managers jump on the Google Lens Tool band-wagon and start designing  packaging products to take advantage of the app, they need to review the quote made by the famous marketer and author of Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz.  He said,:  “Knowing what your prospects knows in advance of a sales pitch is just as important as knowing who he is or what he wants.

Knowing and understanding what your target consumer knows.

A cornerstone of effective packaging design is knowing and understanding what your target consumer knows. It’s also important to understand consumer buyer behaviours. 

According to study.com, “Consumer buying behaviour is the sum total of a consumer’s attitudes, preferences, intentions, and decisions regarding the consumer’s behaviour in the marketplace when purchasing a product or service.” This standardised model of how consumers buy contain 5 basic steps.

  1. Problem recognition 
  2. Information search 
  3. Evaluation
  4. Purchase
  5. Post purchase evaluation

Whilst this standard model may work in many instances it is certainly not a universal. Most grocery shopping is bought habitually.

Many grocery shoppers shop with specific shopping lists. It’s a rarity for a consumer to stop and research a product online whilst standing at a grocery shelf with a trolley and a couple of demanding children.

The question brand marketers need and packaging designers need to understand before they design to suit a technology or a “buying model” is what is the the unconscious buying framework that consumers go through when they are shopping.

In other words, what level of sophistication their target consumers are in, so they can ensure the product pack (on the shelf) is aligned with the consumer’s needs.

The scientific tool that we at Jam&Co use to aid our clients helping them to discover “what their target consumer knows” This strategic marketing design tool we use is called the Nescience Loop©.The Nescience Loop© framework can help brand managers and marketers “know what their target audience knows.”

Slow to adopt to new technology

Consumer buying habits have not evolved as fast as our technology. And yes whilst there will always be Early Technology Adopters, the vast majority of grocery buyers would still behave as either Early Majority or Late Majority consumers. 

So before we as packaging designers and Brand Marketers rush off in an attempt to exploit and incorporate the latest Google Lens tool into our design methodology, it will behoove us both  to wait and see if Googles new Lens tool will be just another fad or are consumers finally ready to jump on board. Is now the time?

Knowing where ones consumer are positioned in terms of their buying sophistication can save Brand Marketers thousands of wasted dollars where they may be applying technology where it’s not required. 

The Nescience Loop© is a consumer awareness framework that tells us what it is they already know about what they want. It’s a mechanism that guides marketers to where their target consumer is on their buying decision process.

To learn how you can apply the Nescience Loop© to your brand and product packing design contact us here at Jam&Co.