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Packaging with purpose: how QR codes can do a marketing job

By Andrew McDougall , 17-Oct-2011
Last updated on 17-Oct-2011 at 16:52 GMT

Quick Response (QR) codes are one of the ways that packaging can do a mobile marketing job by providing consumers with added information and engaging them with the brand.

With a lot of talk in the cosmetics industry about the ingredients used in products and the quick uptake of mobile technology, marketers could use the packaging add-on to further engage and connect with the consumer.

According to market researcher Neilsen, 31 percent of mobile users have a smartphone; a phone capable of scanning the QR codes and connecting to the internet. It also estimates that this figure will rise by a third in the next three years.

Inform and exchange

QR codes can act as effective gateways to: selected information, such as the ingredients of a product or its background; data exchange, in which the brand engages with the consumer and can collect certain data; or global commerce, linking the user to a site where they can purchase the product or others like it.

For example, US department store Macy’s has QR Codes at its cosmetic counters that link to videos offering make up tips.

The advantage of a QR code is that although the scan site remains the same, the controlling company can change the destination as they please. It can be used to send users to websites, videos, images, contact information or social media.

"QR codes demonstrate just one of the ways in which mobile marketing can effectively be integrated into existing media and marketing campaigns to help reach desired consumer segments," said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile.

According to a study carried out by digital specialist comScore this summer, on mobile QR and bar code scanning, 14 million mobile users in the US, representing 6.2 percent of the total mobile audience, scanned a QR or bar code on their mobile device in the month of June.

Gather and present information

"For marketers, understanding which consumer segments scan QR codes, the source and location of these scans, and the resulting information delivered, is crucial in developing and deploying campaigns that successfully utilize QR codes to further brand engagement," added Donovan.

The study also analyzed the source and location of QR or bar code scanning, finding that users are most likely to scan codes from product packaging, as well as in newspapers or magazines.

Last year, Brussels-based natural and organic association Natrue implemented a QR code labeling system that allows consumers to check the ingredients of a product by scanning the label on their smartphone.

Users are able to see details about the composition of the products as well as access information about the companies that produce them, their environmental considerations and interaction with the communities where the ingredients are sourced.

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