The QR Code Comes of Age

The QR Code Comes of Age

You likely noticed QR codes turning up more often in the retail landscape before the pandemic. If you’re like me, that may have seemed a bit puzzling until you realized that the last few smart phone launches feature a simple to use swipe-up feature that allows users to read these codes without even needing to log-in. According to BeaconStac blog, QR code usage is growing quickly. They quote Juniper Research who estimates 1 billion smartphone QR code usages to access coupons and product information by 2022. Until last spring, the resurgence of QR codes was driven by both the universality of smart phones as well as the desire modern shoppers have to access additional product information at the point of purchase; however, the pandemic has provided new momentum to the QR code movement. 

Recently I attended the Arrell Food Summit. Among the many reasons to praise the staging of that conference is that the organizers were able to deliver a highly satisfying networking experience (a first in my online conference experience). At the end of day networking event, I was in a chat room with two nutrition professors, an analyst for Agri Food and Agriculture Canada, an education expert, and a sustainability consultant. Our conversation included a discussion about how our own grocery shopping habits have changed since March 2020. We all agreed that we spend less time in the grocery store and that as we endeavour to limit our in-store touch points, we are reading the back of labels much less often. We agreed that if our new shopping habits are shared by consumers that the ability to make healthy packaged food choices will be diminished. Our ideas to mitigate the problem is more thoughtfully chosen front of package call outs and moving QR codes from the side and back of packages to the front. 

In Canada, where we have an obligation to have both French and English information on food packaging, the resurgence of these codes offers marketers an opportunity to deliver information that space constraints prevent them from adding to the front of packages. 

The same design change offers value for companies launching disruptive products that require consumer education to drive trial. One of the companies I mentor as part of my work at the University of Guelph just launched a new, shelf stable, plant-based meal kit that offers consumers a myriad of usage options. In this time when sampling is not allowed, these founders are struggling to communicate the versatility of their product and are considering adding QR codes to the front of their packages. 

If you’re a food marketer, how are you thinking about using QR Codes in the future? Share your thoughts on twitter and tag our handle @BlUnInnovation. Or, if you’d like to brainstorm ways to integrate this increasingly ubiquitous technology into your brand and packaging strategy, book some time to chat with me.


In case you missed it, we have two innovation events coming up in January:

  • January 13 – Workshop: Create Consumer Products that Sell
  • January 27- Flavour of the Month Club Meet Up Topic: Budgetarians: how will generational demographics and covid drive change in the food business over the next 5 years?


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