How to launch a successful off-pack activation using a QR code

Published on
July 15, 2020
Faisal Chaudhuri

At Provenance, we work with brands who use their products to connect shoppers to digital transparency content. They do this by putting a QR code on their packaging that customers can scan. We recommend this as the best type of physical activation.

However, launching a QR activation has a number of challenges and it is not as simple as printing the QR code on the packaging. There are many QR code activations that aren’t successful because they don’t consider other key factors.

Here are 5 key things we have learned.

1. Make sure your QR code is big enough

We know space on packaging comes at a premium, but don’t make the mistake of printing your QR code too small. If you want people to get through to your content then their phone cameras need to be able to register the QR code quickly.

  • Make sure it is a least 20x20cm otherwise phone cameras may struggle.

This is an important first step in an activation that needs to reduce as much friction as possible in the customer experience.

2. Place it away from the barcode

Even though QR codes have been around for a while, they are still not that common to see on packaging. When they are placed next to the barcode, we have seen shoppers confuse them for something ‘technical’. Even though the surrounding content may clarify this, at first glance, there is a risk that people will ignore it.

  • Find a way to separate the QR code and barcode on the packaging to avoid confusion.

3. Use a specific call-to-action

This is probably the single biggest mistake we have seen brands make. Often below or above the QR code is a generic call-to-action like "find out more" or "visit our website". QR codes are a relatively high-friction experience, so shoppers need to see clear value in getting out their phone to scan.

We recommend that you use the surrounding copy to briefly frame the content that sits behind the QR code. Then use the call-to-action to convince the shopper that there is more they can learn.

For example:

  • “We are working to reduce the carbon footprint of all our products. Scan here to see the footprint of this product.”
  • “We responsibly source our tuna from the Indian Ocean. Scan here to see how we do this.”
QR code on bottle of honey with clear call to action
An effective call-to-action provokes a shopper to learn more

4. Communicate the same message across other touchpoints

A QR code on-pack cannot be the only touchpoint with that messaging. Particularly with transparency and sustainability, your customers may be unaware that you are doing any of these things. You need to raise that awareness elsewhere so that by the time they have your product in their hands they are looking for more information. This ‘priming’ is common in marketing, but often gets ignored with QR code activations.

  • Support your activation with similar messaging in other channels. This will raise awareness and help increase the number of people that are likely to scan either pre or post-purchase.

5. Measure success beyond scan rate

Even though the number of people scanning is important, QR codes are also a way to show that you are confident about what you say. If you are willing to put something on-pack about sustainability or transparency, then this elevates your brand more broadly.

  • Look to wider signals, such as brand sentiment on social media, to measure the success of your QR code. There is power in what this symbolises to your customers.

QR codes remain a great way to connect your physical products to digital experiences on Provenance. By paying attention to these other factors you can ensure that you have a successful activation.

See how Italian bread brand Pontino used a QR code on their packaging

Faisal Chaudhuri

Content Strategist & Developer at Provenance

The Provenance Team

Provenance powers sustainability claims you can trust. The global leader in sustainability marketing technology, Provenance helps brands and retailers share credible, compelling and fact-checked social and environmental impact information at the point of sale. Provenance’s technology is already increasing conversion rates, brand value and market share for customers including Cult Beauty, Douglas, GANNI, Napolina, Arla and Unilever

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