If a picture is worth a thousand words, it can be invaluable in data that works both ways for consumers and brands. PepsiCo’s on-package digital QR codes are one example, providing curated engagement for shoppers throughout their buying and consumption journey and delivering insights back to the business.
By scanning the QR code, known as the GS1 Digital Link 2D barcode, consumers can access information on a product's nutrition facts, allergens, ingredients, sustainability features, loyalty rewards and more. The code is essentially a digital launchpad that leads to a personalized experience from a single SKU. Progressive Grocer recently talked with John Phillips, SVP of customer, supply chain, global to market at PepsiCo, about the QR code that’s accompanied the rebranding of the company’s lemon-lime soda from Sierra Mist to Starry.
[Read more: "PepsiCo Launches New Sustainability Platform for Shared Progress"]
Progressive Grocer: If you had to describe the scope and scale of the GS1 Digital Link 2D Barcode, how would you compare it to some of the biggest overall packaging technology developments? In other words, how big is this?
John Phillips: As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UPC barcode in 2023, we are also beginning the journey to replace it with an exciting next generation of technology. This transition will create an unprecedented opportunity to transform how consumers digitally engage with their favorite products. Consumers are seeking much more information about the products they buy, and new 2D data carriers are enabling us to unleash an exciting new era of SMART packaging.
The new GS1 Digital Link 2D barcode enables new capabilities to expand consumer engagement and provide a curated experience tailored to the individual product. This framework will allow expanded sharing of nutritional, brand, allergen, sustainability, recycling, loyalty programs, and other consumer-centric information. PepsiCo is working to inspire and share our vision to fuel this global transformation to SMART packaging across the CPG industry. The GS1 Digital Link capabilities are 10X what we experienced when we launched the current UPC barcode.
PG: How does this innovation reflect a convergence of market demands and trends, encompassing sustainability, convenience, health/wellness/food safety (allergens) and marketing opportunities?
JP: As the consumer continues to become more digitally minded, the use of smartphones has become ubiquitous in most consumer product transactions. Consumers now routinely rely on digital sources to discover new products and research product information, make purchase decisions, and engage with the brands that they love. Consumers are also demanding increased product information transparency beyond the information that is traditionally printed on product labels. By enabling a seamless link between a physical product and the digital world, the GS1 Digital Link unlocks access to an unlimited range of product related digital information and experiences.
Manufacturers will also be able to leverage the digital capabilities of 2D barcodes to alert consumers, almost instantly, to product recalls as well as other food safety information that is critical for consumers to have in a timely fashion.
Additionally, as all companies elevate their sustainability focus, leveraging SMART Packaging and digital disclosure can significantly reduce waste and packaging obsolescence. At the same time, these frameworks can put more comprehensive product information in the hands of consumers than we have ever experienced in our lifetime. This can be done in a curated way, making it easier for consumers to navigate versus looking at a package that looks like the sponsorships on a NASCAR.