The New Age QR Code

QR codes are no longer just for scanning the price at checkout.  More and more companies are giving consumers information - and lots of it - by scanning the seemingly generic little square of black and white lines.  Consumers want to know about their food, the ingredients, where it comes from, whether it contains allergens, GMOs, usage instructions and more.

NPR's The Salt talks about the new SmartLabel, focusing on Hershey's efforts to reveal more information about its Kisses.  But like NPR mentions, it's not just Hershey's seeking to create an increasingly transparent brand.  Earlier this month, the Grocery Manufacturers Association announced a new SmartLabel initiative, one in which more than 30 food and beverage companies have already signed on.

From the GMA announcement:

"SmartLabel™ makes it easier than ever for shoppers to find information about products they use and consume. SmartLabel™ will be available on an array of food, beverage, personal care, household and pet care products with information on hundreds of attributes covering thousands of products, including nutritional information, ingredients, allergens, third-party certifications, social compliance programs, usage instructions, advisories and safe handling instructions and company/brand information, along with other pertinent information about the product."

Their timeline?  "Some companies are beginning to offer products using SmartLabel™ late this year and early in 2016, with projections of nearly 30,000 total products using SmartLabel™ by the end of 2017.  Early estimates indicate that within five years, more than 80 percent of the food, beverage, pet care, personal care and household products that consumers buy will be using SmartLabel.™"

This certainly holds promise for giving shoppers more information at its fingertips.  The question becomes what we do with this information, how it's revealed to us and what types of marketing strategies get embedded within this information.  Industry is responding to consumer demand, and now it's up to us to make sense of it all.