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Square, convenient, smart: QR codes ? added value on the supermarket shelf

Know more, shop smarter: beverage industry discovers the mobile internet

(PresseBox) (Wittenberg, ) Know more, be better informed and shop smarter: the food industry is discovering the square matrix of the Quick Response codes (QR codes). Using a two-dimensional code consisting of black and white fields that are printed on packages and can be scanned with a smartphone, consumers are able to directly access digitally stored product information and brand messages via the mobile internet. Consumers can even use QR codes to find out about promotions and competitions, straight from the supermarket shelf. QR codes not only communicate product information, they are also new marketing instruments.

Where does the steak in my frying pan come from? Where are the oranges in my juice from? Where do the cows live whose milk I am drinking? Who made this ice cream, and what is in it? These days, consumers want to know all about the food they are buying. QR codes are a modern way for food manufacturers to keep consumers informed. People are able to access the information conveniently on their mobile phones, using a QR application ('app' for short) installed on their smartphones, instead of typing in a long internet address. "Consumers are increasingly embracing the ability to obtain genuine added benefits in the form of additional in-formation, with minimal effort. The mobile network offers a vast range of possibilities for this. And we are only just beginning to discover what this technology is capable of", says Martin Herrenbrück, Head of Global Marketing and Business Development at SIG Combibloc, talking about current trends in food and packaging.

On SIG Combibloc carton packs, too, food manufacturers are incorporating QR codes that give consumers background information on the product right at the supermarket shelf. Mace-donian food company Mlekara AD Bitola, for instance, is now using QR codes on the packag-ing of its 100% 'BiFruit' juices. This QR code takes consumers via a direct digital link to a spe-cial website that provides recipes on how to make different seasonal cocktails. It also has a link to BiFruit's Facebook page, where current news is presented on a rolling basis. Igor Ivanovski, Category Manager for juices at Mlekara AD Bitola adds: "The idea behind this technology is to make direct contact with consumers. We are interested in people, their needs and what they think. The link with social network is clear. The pages accessed via smartphones are designed to be compatible with mobile devices. This triangular approach (QR Codes - Smartphones - Socialmedia) funnels the power of all three communication tools into one condensed communication platform ? allowing consumers access to all information at any one time."

Spanish company J. García Carrión is taking a similarly ambitious approach to QR codes. The codes, linking to a promotion with a competition and to the company's social media sites at Facebook, Twitter and the local Spanish portal 'tuenti', are printed on the company's 'Don Simon' juice range and on 'Frutas + Leche' ('Fruit + Milk') mixed drinks. Don José García Car-rión, president and owner of J. García Carrión: "Surveys show that consumer interest in the mobile internet is growing. This applies above all to young consumers, and in respect of QR codes our main focus is currently on this target group. The codes on the packages open up a lot of new possibilities for addressing consumers within specific target groups".

Virtual supermarket

The symbiotic merging of the digital and the real worlds, as in a recent example from South Korea, is perhaps still a long way off for other parts of the world. A British retailer has mounted billboards on the walls of an underground train station, showing supermarket shelves tightly packed with actual-sized products - and has opened a virtual supermarket. Each product has a QR code, allowing passengers to shop online using their smartphones while they are waiting for a train. Consumers can also pay by mobile phone, and their groceries will be delivered to their door. Within just a few months, according to information provided by the retailer, sales through the online shop have increased by 130 per cent. Martin Herrenbrück: "The use of smartphones as regular shopping companions is going to catch on at different speeds in different parts of the world. But according to forecasts by experts, if the current trend continues, within the next 20 to 30 months more mobile telephones will be connected to the internet than PCs. Compared to the domestic appliance industry, for instance, the food industry is still more reluctant to introduce QR codes. However, a step into the digital future can really be worth it - especially if you manage to achieve a 'first mover' effect in the market you are aiming for".

SIG Combibloc

SIG Combibloc is one of the world's leading system suppliers of carton packaging and filling machines for beverages and food. In 2010 the company achieved a turnover of 1,360 million Euro with around 4,650 employees in 40 countries. SIG Combibloc is part of the New Zealand based Rank Group.