Functional, free and even edible, QR (quick response) codes are giving new meaning to “look behind the label.” Marketers are employing QR codes in incredibly creative ways, but one of the most powerful and practical applications may be product and program transparency. A few recent examples:
• The IOU Project has introduced QR codes to its brand of hand-woven fabrics to let consumers trace the life story of its products all the way back to the weaver.
• A Boston restaurant is whipping up calamari ink QR codes to tell diners about the origins and sustainability of the seafood on their plates.
• And a Boston nonprofit is using a QR code to enhance its cause marketing promotion with iParty and Fuddruckers. The campaign links the code to Quora, a question and answer site, to create what just may be a powerful new cocktail for cause marketing transparency. When consumers scan the QR code on the campaign’s paper icons, they’ll be taken to a unique Quora page where they can post comments, questions or access a list of FAQs pertaining to the program.
The demand for detailed information about cause-related and corporate responsibility efforts is growing, while product packaging is shrinking or disappearing altogether. New media tools help bridge this gap and offer new ways to give consumers the information they need to make informed decisions. QR codes and Quora might be a little premature for all but the savviest consumers, but it is an interesting and necessary experiment in the future of customized transparency.