Food promotional coding gets mobile boost

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Codes can be used to gather data
Codes can be used to gather data
Digital promotions driven by on-pack coding are providing brands with security, the ability to market test concepts and, when combined with mobile technology, even the option of reacting to where the code is being accessed.

Promotional specialist Hive says it generates billions of unique codes a year for newspapers, including The Sun​, but also consumer goods brands, including the McVities’ VIP Club, Lurpak, Jus-Rol and PG Tips Cuppa Club loyalty schemes.

While unique codes have been used for promotions and data-gathering, each campaign has been treated separately, and the data fragmented into silos, year after year. That is the view of joint founder and director of Hive Merric Mercer. “With our system, the code stays on the pack all the time,​” he said.


“If a brand’s underperforming in a particular store or region, you can mail your consumer base in that geographical area to offer, for example, cashback when the code is entered,” ​Mercer explained. “A further benefit is that the brand gets instant feedback on the effectiveness of that promotion.”

This ability to carry out limited and controlled market testing of a specific promotional mechanic or reward is one of the strengths of the Hive system, he claimed. “Brands spend significant amounts on promotions. This allows them to test different promotional concepts to gauge which is most effective, while providing traceability for proof of purchase.”

‘Security issues’

The system is especially effective when combined with mobile technology, via Quick Response (QR) or other 2D matrix codes, according to Hive. “We do all the validation for when the consumer scans the code, and our patented technology allows us to trace it,” said Mercer. “You have all those security issues about people copying codes. Our system hooks into GPS to identify whether consumers are scanning in-store or at home, and that helps protect against fraud.”

Codes are normally applied in the food factory in combination with best before dates, but can be created at the pack or label converting stage, if necessary.

Hive believes that 2D matrix codes remain the best vehicle for this type of mobile-enabled promotion.

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