Opinion: product barcodes – an invitation to the produce party

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Opinion: product barcodes – an invitation to the produce party

By Greenscans co-founder and BerryBroad Juanita Gaglio

As technology envelopes produce, the smartphone trend is here to stay.  The good news is that you will be able to connect with the consumer through your product barcodes.

Imagine throwing a fabulous holiday party.  Plans have been made months in advance with special artisan catering, live music, seating arrangements; perhaps the venue is a special place on a luxury yacht or castle. Invitations have been mailed. The day arrives and no one shows up.

What better way to compare elaborate marketing plans and budgets that are spent to invite consumers to taste your wares on their yachts or castles of choice, participate in an exciting sweepstakes or cross promotional opportunity.   All you know is that it "appeared to be a success" but where are actual measurements to see how many people "came to the party?"   Company websites, are another place where the party takes place.  They are a source of pride for companies, but again, how many people actually "come to the party?"

Produce companies are promoting new packaging, seasonal contests, holiday recipes, nutritional values or tips on the multiple ways to use products. These are fantastic messages, but how does the consumer learn about any of these messages in order to participate? As the smartphone becomes more prevalent and consumers become more comfortable with using them, they are scanning products at phenomenal rates.

They have a choice to scan a QR code or the one item that will always be found on a product, the barcode might be a good place to start. According to a new study by Scanbuy, there were more than 16 million barcode scans in the second quarter of 2012, with June reported as the highest scan month ever with 5.3 million scans.

The barcode has evolved from the check-out stand to prime real estate for a company. a look at scans by age group, with the 35-44 growing to a 24% share compared to 20% in Q1.

Barcode Scan Share
Age Group Q4 2011 Q2 2012
Under 18 11% 8%
18-24 22 16
25-34 28 26
35-44 22 24
45-54 10 16
55 + 7 11
Source: Scanbuy/Marketing Charts, August 2012

What are consumers looking for when they scan a product?

-          Contest

-          Loyalty Program

-          Social media

-          App download

-          Video

Data collected by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows the power of the relationship between mobile platforms. Consumer scans of product barcodes increased by 149% in 2011.

Citizen case study

How do we know all this social media works? For a case study illustration, I have chosen a very conservative company, similar to the produce industry, Citizen Watch, founded in 1918. The world’s largest watch manufacturer had a fairly traditional offline approach of television and print. Sound familiar?

In May 2011 the company decided to venture out into a new forward-thinking approach with a new online marketing campaign focused on expanding social media and mobile intelligence. eight months the company went from a zero presence in both mobile and social media, to nearly 50,000 Facebook "Likes" and 3.3 million mobile page views!  Now that is an invitation to the party!

Designing the invitation

How do we design our invitation to get the consumer to come the party of produce? You have to learn about the hottest tech buzzword, SoLoMo (Social, Location, Mobile). Consumers are leaving their PC’s and increasingly using internet-connected devices like smartphones as their personal assistant during shopping. How does this work with produce? A consumer can now pick up anything from an artichoke to a packaged salad mix, anywhere in the world, and scan the databar on the product to learn about it.

What if through the scan, the consumer learns about a special cross promotion and can tap on a Facebook tile to get involved and share with all their friends? Or a targeted campaign can be developed engaging the consumer in a contest that would be featured on the barcode? What if the consumer could tap on a tile to view a video on the farms or growing region?

The more engaged you can become with your consumers, the more likely a bond forms through brand loyalty. The tools are now available with social media and mobile platforms and there is a learned science on how to successfully implement and weave them. All social media should be linked to support one another and linked to the mobile app.

The message should be clear and consistent with each medium. Keep the customer’s interest by changing the message on a regular basis.  My recommendation would be to work with seasonality. For example, Thanksgiving through Christmas consumers are always seeking new recipes and different ways to use products. In January, you can change the message to “Get in shape after the holidays”, motivating the consumer to get on board with a health and wellness program.

Have funtoo! The Nielsen Social Media 2012 report clearly shows a decrease in the time that people spend on their PCs, down 4% compared to time spent on the mobile web (82% increase) and mobile apps (85%), comparing July 2012 to the same month in 2011.

In purchasing a home, it is all about location, location, location. In today’s evolving marketing, technology is taking a firm grip; the consumer sale is all about mobile, mobile, mobile.


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