Amidst the growing weariness among consumers towards excessive ‘brand noise’ and the ever-changing equation of consumer values, brand proprietors must adapt their communication methods to deliver accessible, pertinent, and concise content.

While emerging trends may understandably raise concerns for brand managers, there is positive news as they align with the industry’s transition from 1D to 2D barcodes (or 2D codes) at the point-of-sale. This shift to 2D codes unveils a plethora of fresh opportunities for brands to simplify interactions with consumers and streamline product usage while enhancing the brand experience through variable data, notably QR codes powered by GS1 – formerly recognised as GS1 Digital Link.

Lee Metters, Group Business Development Director at Domino Printing Sciences, elucidates how brand owners can fulfil the demands of modern consumers and foster enduring business value by integrating variable data into the progression of coding and marking solutions.

Rethinking Consumer Communication

In late 2022, consumer research specialist Mintel initially identified the ‘Hyper Fatigue’ consumer trend, asserting that “consumers are being pulled in various directions while bombarded with media stories and digital content. The pandemic, increasing cost of living, energy crisis, geopolitical unrest, and climate crisis are exerting pressure, leaving consumers feeling overwhelmed.” The research underscored consumer fatigue as one of five pivotal trends for 2023, alongside the “Me Mentality” and “Intentional Spending,” emphasising the imperative for brands to “break through the noise” and “connect with what matters to [consumers]” as part of the evolving value equation.

These 2023 trends were reaffirmed in Mintel’s 2024 projections, which underscored the significance of brands collaborating with consumers to navigate ongoing global uncertainty and the importance of emotion in brand communications.

Concurrently, reports from Deloitte and DentsuX also highlight instances of digital fatigue, with consumers expressing a growing sense of overwhelm due to the multitude of devices and subscriptions they must manage since the pandemic, alongside their increasing reluctance to “wade through a sea of information or products to find what they need.”

This sentiment holds true not only during the purchasing process but also post-purchase, during product use, where the time and effort required to register product warranties, handle returns, refunds, and complaints, and troubleshoot issues, can lead to significant frustration.

The key takeaway for brand owners: minimise friction. While technology may contribute to overwhelm for some consumers, it can also serve as a tool to alleviate frustration and confusion. Brands leveraging digital interactions to simplify their consumers’ lives can anticipate enhanced consumer loyalty and accelerated growth.

Transitioning to 2D Codes at the Point-of-Sale

One effective approach for brands to simplify interactions with consumers and enhance the seamless use of products is by employing scannable variable 2D codes, particularly QR codes powered by GS1. These codes grant access to personalised, brand-controlled product information for specific items or batches of products.

By utilising scannable 2D codes to identify products, brands have a significant opportunity to facilitate consumers’ seamless access to necessary information, thereby reducing the reliance on online searches or navigating through numerous search results or a brand’s website to find relevant information. Brands can leverage scannable 2D codes to assist consumers in:

  1. Finding usage or assembly instructions: These codes are not limited to durable goods but can also provide instructions for food items or links to recipe suggestions.
  2. Purchasing spare parts and accessories: Consumers can easily ensure compatibility without sorting through numerous products and matching item numbers.
  3. Accessing troubleshooting and repair tutorials: Brands can swiftly provide access to troubleshooting information, reducing consumer frustration when products malfunction.

Identifying products at the individual item level can unlock additional benefits for consumers. Brands can offer personalised experiences through variable 2D codes linked to purchase information obtained at the point-of-sale, facilitating automatic form completion for issue resolution, complaints, and product warranty registration. This approach can also simplify refunds and returns, a significant benefit as evidenced by research indicating that 81 percent of shoppers are more likely to patronise a retailer with a positive returns experience, according to Royal Mail.

The versatility of variable data 2D codes, such as QR codes powered by GS1, enables brands to convey a broad range of information with minimal data limitations. This technology enables brands to provide diverse information, including details on product lifecycle, sustainability, and supply chain transparency, empowering consumers to make informed choices aligned with their values.

Moreover, these 2D codes can furnish easily accessible, clear, and up-to-date information on end-of-life, waste management, and recycling details – addressing another significant source of consumer frustration. A QR code powered by GS1 equipped with geolocation functionality can offer tailored guidance on product disposal, advising whether a product is recyclable at curbside or linking consumers to the nearest recycling facility.

Conclusion

With the industry gearing up for the transition from 1D barcodes to 2D codes at the point-of-sale starting in 2027, there has never been a more opportune moment to delve into the advantages of variable data. To maximise the potential of this shift to 2D codes, brands ought to contemplate integrating dynamic, variable data codes right from the outset. Ideally, partnering with a trusted technology ally can offer invaluable guidance on the optimal adoption of QR codes powered by GS1. This strategic approach ensures brands are well-positioned to harness the full spectrum of benefits afforded by this transformative evolution in barcode technology.

Amidst the growing weariness among consumers towards excessive ‘brand noise’ and the ever-changing equation of consumer values, brand proprietors must adapt their communication methods to deliver accessible, pertinent, and concise content.

While emerging trends may understandably raise concerns for brand managers, there is positive news as they align with the industry’s transition from 1D to 2D barcodes (or 2D codes) at the point-of-sale. This shift to 2D codes unveils a plethora of fresh opportunities for brands to simplify interactions with consumers and streamline product usage while enhancing the brand experience through variable data, notably QR codes powered by GS1 – formerly recognised as GS1 Digital Link.

Lee Metters, Group Business Development Director at Domino Printing Sciences, elucidates how brand owners can fulfil the demands of modern consumers and foster enduring business value by integrating variable data into the progression of coding and marking solutions.

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