QR Code Detective: Can you learn from the produce aisle?

QR Code Detective - California Giant Berry Farms
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The fruits and veggies in your local supermarket may now be the most high tech items in the store.

Although the fruits and vegetables in the produce department of the grocery store may seem like some of the most basic and natural items among the many aisles, the use of a QR code has now become commonplace as growers and distributers, alike are discovering the benefits of what these barcodes can do for sales while a customer is in store and to encourage repeat purchases.

These quick response codes can turn a small amount of space into a nearly limitless marketing opportunity.

Many of the strategies for the use of a QR code on fruits and vegetables have been quite creative and could provide quite the lesson for the marketers of other products in supermarkets as well as in other markets. Though quick response codes have become quite common on product packaging of all kind, it appears that producers and distributors of fruits and vegetables seem to have maintained a more consistent grasp on how to make them useful and attractive to consumers. Moreover, they typically have not failed to skip one of the most important steps for using these barcodes in any format – encouraging a consumer to actually make the scan – which is all too frequently overlooked in their use.

QR codes are frequently being used by growers in creative, effective, and relevant ways.

QR Code Detective - California Giant Berry Farms

The following are three examples of fruit packages that have successfully used QRcodes in terms of the promotion of scanning and in encouraging interaction with the consumer once it has been scanned.

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5 stars QR Code Detective California Giant Berry Farms – Though the barcode was very small and required some patience in order to successfully scan it, it was present on both the top and bottom of the clear plastic clamshell package for its fresh strawberries. The barcode was accompanied with instructions for smartphone users to scan or for traditional computer users to visit a regular website. Scanning led to a webpage that was specific to the product being purchased, allowing the consumer to trace the strawberries back to the farm where they were grown. In this case, the strawberries were grown at California Giant Berry Farms in Santa Maria. The page provided information about the region and videos to “Meet the Farmer” as well as for “A Day in the Life of a California Giant Strawberry.” Links were also provided to social media through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram.

5 stars QR Code Detective Driscoll’s – On a package of raspberries, again some patience was required to scan a small QR code. However, instructions were provided for scanning, as was the incentive to “Scan. Join. Be rewarded”, encouraging scanning, participation, and a reason to actually do so. An alternative website for non-mobile users was also provided. This Watsonville, California company has created a rewards club, which can be joined by scanning the barcode. This encourages consumers to sign up to obtain special offers (including a “birthday gift”), obtain access to contests and sweepstakes, receive recipes as well as health and wellness tips, and subscribe to a monthly e-newsletter. It also encouraged consumers to take a quick satisfaction survey for which they were rewarded with a discount coupon (for every completed survey). The more scans and completed surveys a customer receives, the higher the value of their coupons. The mobile site was also linked to several social networks.

3 stars - QR Code Detective Dole – while Dole bananas encouraged consumers to scan the stickers with a QR code to “Peel the Love,” with what was advertised as a “Mix Mixer”, the code was attempted with more than one device but was either too small or otherwise flawed to be able to discover its contents. Further research through the brand’s Facebook page revealed that the stickers provide recipes for mixing, blending, and grilling their bananas. Unfortunately, other people were reporting the same issue on various online forums. While the concept is fantastic and encourages more sales by educating the consumer about great ways to use the product, the struggle caused by the barcode itself and the fact that the sticker does not contain the website URL means that the campaign could be holding itself back from its true potential.

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