image credit: yukata tsukano via flickr cc
In early December 2015, more than 30 major grocery brands announced intent to begin including “smart labels” on CPG packaging by the end of 2017. Per Fortune, these smart labels will provide consumers with the ability to scan the label with a mobile device to retrieve in-depth information on “ingredients, allergens, animal welfare, environmental policies” and GMO content. Brands who intend to participate in the smart label initiative include Pepsi, ConAgra, Hormel, Campbell, and many others.
While reception to this widely-discussed initiative has been mixed, there’s no question it can have a drastic impact on the concept of CPG packaging. Currently, 70% of Americans own a smartphone, and adoption continues to rise. Legislature surrounding required disclosure and consumer preferences has lead to crowded labels. As companies are able to integrate mobile marketing and packaging design to meet disclosure requirements and educate consumers, there are some critical factors for CPG brands to consider.
Disclosure May Still Belong on Packaging
While many consumers are already using mobile devices during trips to the grocery store, smart labels will demand a dramatic shift in behavior patterns for many others. Regardless, the vast majority of consumers aren’t in favor of the smart packaging initiative. Mellman Group research has found a staggering 90% of consumers want information on GMOs on a physical label, not through a mobile device.
In other words, just because you have the ability to disclose information in digital form doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. Brands who market specifically to health or GMO-conscious consumers or late adopters should consider using mobile integrations for other methods than ingredient and policy disclosure.
Consumers Want Brand Interaction
If you’re lucky enough to convince a consumer to scan your smart label, you’ve already won. The consumer is seriously considering purchase or has bought your product, thanks in part to your brand’s reputation and packaging design. Some of the world’s smartest brands are utilizing smart labels and QR codes to deliver interactive product experiences, which match what consumers want from mobile integration.
Woodst research has found that when it comes to QR code and other forms of mobile marketing integration on CPG packaging, consumers have the following preferences:
- A user-friendly mobile experience with simple navigation
- Visuals and easy-to-read content, including “photos, videos, [and] audio files”
- Up-to-date information on events, news, and other info
Brands should look beyond loyalty programs when designing mobile-enriched experiences with product packaging. While policy, allergen, and ingredient disclosure can be one critical aspect of a mobile label, it shouldn’t be the only one. By providing video recipes, healthy podcasts, and other relevant content to mobile customers, brands can build loyalty and generate positive buzz.
Your Options are Nearly Unlimited
When it comes to possible applications of mobile integration with CPG labels, the sky's the limit. Major CPG, grocery, and food brands have already developed truly innovative mobile experiences, with exceptional results. Consider the following food and CPG case studies of mobile marketing integration:
Tim Horton’s has modernized the process of catching up on current events while having your morning coffee. A QR code on the brand’s coffee cup sleeves connects consumers directly with breaking news stories and high-quality reads. This concept is brilliant on multiple levels. Not only does it offer exclusive added value to customers, it fits seamlessly into existing consumer behavior patterns.
Qkies, a Germany-based specialty baker, has integrated mobile marketing and product customization. The brand’s customers are able to order cookies iced with a custom QR code as a gift for friends and family. Scanning the code with a smartphone provides the gift recipients with access to personalized messages from friends and family. It’s a sweet idea that could definitely catch on in the digital age for consumers seeking personal interaction from brands they love. Even at mass-scale, the idea could work seamlessly -- Snapple has been printing the inside of their bottle caps with inspirational quotations and words of wisdom for years.
Gaia Herbs, a supplement manufacturer, allows customers to “meet their herbs.” By scanning their product, consumers can discover the precise origin of the contents of their purchase, including information on the farm where it was grown, quality control processes, and other factoids. Specific information on food origin and production methods could prove engaging to consumers who prefer organic, healthy, or specialty food items.
While the recent smart labels initiative is a highly visible step towards mobile and CPG packaging integration, it’s certainly not the first or last innovation in this arena. The most successful CPG brands of tomorrow are likely to look beyond required disclosure to provide innovative and engaging customer experiences through mobile devices.