Colour and branding, Communications, Labels, What's new

Tuesday I spoke about the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s SmartLabel™ initiative, created in conjunction with the Food Marketing Institute. While an innovative way to provide unprecedented amounts of information through the ingenious use of QR codes on packaging, it has raised concerns over privacy among consumer protection groups.

So, how does SmartLabel® handle privacy?

Protecting consumer privacy

Acknowledging these ever-present public apprehensions about privacy, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has taken several steps to ensure protection of SmartLabel™ user privacy. Here’s how:

  • Brands that carry the SmartLabel™ trademark are prohibited from using the SmartLabel™ landing pages for marketing.
  • SmartLabel™ is intended to convey approved attributes that aid shoppers in their knowledge and understanding of participating products. It cannot be used to make marketing claims, such as “America’s favorite brand.”
  • Consumers will go to SmartLabel™ web landing pages and get the information they want without needing to sign in or disclose any personal information.
  • There is no single industry database, nor is there any industry website for data collection. Each participating SmartLabel™ brand is required to provide their Privacy Policy.

In the words of Roger Lowe, Executive Vice President, Strategic Communications of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, “We are committed to transparency and meeting strong consumer interests for more information on food ingredients, such as nutrition, environmental, religious and sustainability factors.”

As SmartLabel gathers steam, Lowe expects more and more product attributes to be added to the databases, just as consumer interest in information continually expands.

Apps coming

In the months ahead, people will be able to get to SmartLabel™ via certified apps, which will take the consumer to the SmartLabel™ landing page in two clicks or less. A SmartLabel™ branded app will be launched in mid-2016 for iOS and Android operating systems. Many participating brands will market and promote this additional means of access.

Access to all

It is important to note that the information is also available to consumers that don’t have smartphones, a concern raised by certain consumer protection groups.

  • SmartLabel content will be discoverable using internet search engines such as Google or Bing
  • Consumers can access, where they’ll find a searchable database of products
  • The 1-800 number usually printed on consumer packaging will also be a source of SmartLabel information
  • Most retailers will help consumers access the SmartLabel information in their stores.

This initative opens up a new era in packaging. In Lowe’s words: “Consumers today want to know so much more about their food than is ever possible to put on a label. We believe SmartLabel™ is a transformative initiative that leverages digital technology to address this growing consumer thirst for knowledge and will enable consumers to get all the information they want to know about what they are purchasing – and when they want to know it.”