All Eyes on Packaging: How Brands Can Deliver on Consumer Demand for Transparency

Retail stores are filled with more conscientious consumers than ever before. With the advent of the smartphone, consumers expect to be able to access complete, accurate information on the fly to make shopping decisions that align with their lifestyle choices — gluten-free, organic and more.

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Laura DiSciullo, Senior Vice President of Solutions, GS1 USLaura DiSciullo, Senior Vice President of Solutions, GS1 US

Retail stores are filled with more conscientious consumers than ever before. With the advent of the smartphone, consumers expect to be able to access complete, accurate information on the fly to make shopping decisions that align with their lifestyle choices — gluten-free, organic and more.

With mobile technology driving heightened shopper expectations, there has never been a more important time to seize the opportunity to increase loyalty and sales. According a recent to RichRelevance study, 79 percent of consumers like being able to scan a product on a mobile device to obtain more information. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they use their mobile phone while shopping in a physical store. That percentage soars to 84 percent among Millennials, who are digital natives that have never experienced the world without the Internet and are now heads of their own households.

Now, the U.S. government is making important changes that give more power to consumers so that they can make educated decisions about their food purchases. Legislation such as the recently-passed genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling law addresses consumers’ increased sensitivities toward the food they eat. It also presents a tremendous opportunity for food manufacturers to look at the power of their product packaging in new and innovative ways. Physical packaging can now be a convenient, interactive portal to push dynamic and useful content to consumers, before and after the sale of the product.

New solutions to enable the connected package

The information standards organization, GS1 US, recently introduced a new solution called GS1 US Mobile Scan that provides a platform for manufacturers (and their app developer partners) to make the package more connected to trustworthy and brand-certified product information. GS1 US Mobile Scan enabled packages include a DWCode, a nearly invisible digital watermark offered in collaboration with Digimarc Corporation that enables trading partners to communicate brand-authorized product information to consumers, including special offers, coupons, additional product attributes, instructional videos, rich media and additional shopping assistance via their smartphones.

By quickly and easily scanning the entire package, without the need to find a barcode or QR code, consumers can turn their mobile device into a personal shopping assistant to quickly and efficiently obtain the information they need. Brands have the opportunity to present useful data to consumers, whenever and wherever they need it the most. For example, packages can lead to a customized landing page containing information on recipes, complementary foods or flavors for meals, seasonal or holiday tips – the possibilities are endless. Even after the purchase, coupons and other information can be offered with a scan of the product package at home, creating new opportunities for a richer and longer term consumer engagement than ever before.

Forward-thinking manufacturers and retailers who are innovating today to meet consumer needs tomorrow are currently exploring tools such as GS1 US Mobile Scan. Some retailers have already begun enabling GS1 US Mobile Scan for their private label products, and several more companies are anticipated to put this groundbreaking technology to use soon. Solutions like this are predicted to change the way people shop and ensure more direct communication of product details between the manufacturer and the consumer.

Today’s challenges

Often, what consumers may find today when they scan a product is a medley of inconsistent information, presented in a static, unorganized and difficult to navigate fashion. New product information platforms can offer trusted, timely, higher quality information that is curated and managed by the brand or retailer.

When a consumer views product information as untrustworthy, it’s likely to become a reflection on the brand or retailer. Research from thinkJar notes that 13 percent of customers said they tell 15 or more people if they’re unhappy with a recent consumer experience. Conversely, 72 percent of consumers will share a positive experience with six or more people. As research has become an essential part of the shopping process, manufacturers and retailers have a unique opportunity to enhance loyalty and more fully leverage the consumer’s influence over their digital network through online reviews and comments.

Another challenge brands and retailers may experience is the inability to provide retail associates with accurate and complete product information to help make the sale. Through solutions like GS1 US Mobile Scan, a smartphone scan could provide the associate with access to information that helps them explain the product and its use. Sales associates can have access to brand-provided information to explain the key factors that are important in decision-making.  For example, a sales associate providing free samples on the store floor of a new type of cracker is armed with the ability to share recipes for new types of complementary dips, as well as whether or not the product is gluten or GMO free.

New solutions like GS1 US Mobile Scan are increasingly viewed as game-changers because of their ability to inform and engage consumers where they are. Ultimately, market leaders who want to take a proactive approach to consumer satisfaction should take advantage of the ability to deliver a world of data possibilities where the package becomes a consumer engagement tool: in store, at home, and ultimately, a portal for the brand.

About the author

Laura DiSciullo is the senior vice president, solutions at GS1 US, overseeing the organization’s membership program and software tools. By taking a two-prong approach to address both internal and external needs, Ms. DiSciullo has been able to create an environment for strong results, significantly increasing customer satisfaction and improving membership renewal rate. Prior to joining GS1 US, Ms. DiSciullo spent 20 years in the telecommunications industry and the contact center applications field, focused on how technology is used to deliver a customer experience resulting in greater satisfaction and lifetime value. Ms. DiSciullo graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in international relations from Texas Christian University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a MBA in economics and public policy from George Washington University.

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