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Should you add a QR code to your package? They offer several benefits for marketers. Using this new medium to engage with consumers at the point of purchase/use or later at their leisure at home raises brand awareness and, hopefully, consumption of the product. But marketers should use QR codes on packs "not because they can, but because they have something relevant to share and have a clear objective," says David Luttenberger, vp, packaging strategist for the Global Packaging Advisory Service at Iconoculture, a consumer research and advisory firm.
In November 2011, the Mobile Marketing Assn. (MMA) published a white paper for free download called Mobile Barcodes: an Overview for Marketers. It explains how marketers can leverage mobile bar codes to give their customers access to information, multi-media content, promotional opportunities, retail store locations, discounts and coupons, samples and more.
"The MMA created this document to educate the industry on the exciting potential of mobile bar codes, and to encourage marketers to experiment," says Michael Becker, MMA managing director, North America. "We invite companies using mobile bar codes in their campaigns to share their experiences and best practices to influence and help direct future MMA guidance."
Okay. So there's a bit of danger in getting it wrong. According to a U.K. study by GS1 and CapGemini, more than 90 percent of the information that British market researchers downloaded via mobile bar code scanning was wrong or incomplete. The implication? Among the consumers surveyed, 38 percent said they wouldn't buy the product if they couldn't trust the data they got with their smartphones.
Here are some key takeaways on how to do it right:
• Remember that whatever the content, it will be displayed on a smartphone screen, so direct people to a site that is optimized for mobile web.
• Package design details matter. "Give the code prominent position within the package design hierarchy. Make it front-panel worthy," Luttenberger says, adding "Strive for design disruption. I steer people away from designer or vanity codes, the ones that have been so well integrated with a logo or well integrated into the packaging design that mainstream consumers will never find it. Make it overt; make it stand out. Make sure the consumer understands that this is not an inventory control tag."
• Meet expectations. Don't disappoint consumers by making the effort to get "it" more than the perceived value of "it" to them. Luttenberger says, "There's potential for erosion of brand loyalty and the erosion of brand equity by not delivering something you promised or by making the engagement so difficult that they become frustrated."
• All tag types (see list here) have pros and cons. Figure out what you are trying to do with your campaign first, then pick the technology that delivers it best.
• Not all consumers know what to do with a QR code, so provide simple directions that tell them what to do and why (the benefit to them).
• With so much open and free data floating out there, consider the looming concerns of security and privacy issues. New technologies like Near Field Communication (see description here) can help protect both consumer data and a brand's equity.
CapGemini, 212-314-8000. www.capgemini.com
GS1, 609-620-0200. www.gs1us.org
Iconoculture, Global Packaging Advisory Service, 856-292-8292. www.iconoculture.com
Mobile Marketing Assn., 646-257-4515. www.mmaglobal.com