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4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Variable Marking and Coding

Posted By: SGK March 21, 2016

Packaging codes benefit consumers, producers, retailers, and brands in several ways. As a form of data and verification upon purchase, variable markings should not be thought of as a “necessary evil”. In the first 2016 issue of Patterns, Liz Churchill and Lyndsey Farrow of Matthews Marking Systems, offer insights on how to make the best of your variable marking and coding to make a greater impact in the decisions consumers make in aisle.

Documentation of freshness. Think of this. Every smart shopper reads the “best buy” or “use by” code to ensure the product is fresh. Also looked at frequently is the country of origin labeling (COOL), which consumers may use to make buying decisions. Albeit controversial, shoppers will typically get their way in the marketplace by demanding to know where their food came from.

Authenticity and safety. Bar codes and serialized markings are used to identify individual lots, shipments, packages of drugs, cosmetics, and other products for purpose of authentication and traceability. This is extremely important for supply-chain management and assurance.

This added safety helps aid tracking from source to consumer, and to recalled products in the event of a problem. Bar codes and markings may also support compliance and local regulations, like tax codes or disclosure requirements. This ensures the supply chain is efficient and accountable, which gives consumers confidence that the products are genuine and safe.

All types of identification codes are about brand trust. The information printed on the package isn’t just data. It’s a story about where the item has been and how fresh it is,” says Lyndsey Farrow.

Better consumer experience. Variable codes and personalized graphics can also be used to engage shoppers, and encourage them to take particular actions. Serialized codes can be printed on many things, including loyalty cards, coupons, promotional flyers, inside bottle caps (think: Snapple), and more. This data is importation to gain more insights into each shopper’s behavior, and helps determine where they are buying products, whether online or in-store, and even which promotion the consumer has acted on.

Strengthen and protect the brand. It’s important to note that most importantly, these codes create brand trust. If the code isn’t present, consumers may not trust the product is fresh, or authentic – and could lead to consumers actually abandoning the purchase altogether. This is why markings need to be legible and provide helpful information.

With print quality, data management, and cost control being the three main concerns of brand owners, packaging engineers, and production line managers, it’s important to turn these potential issues into a necessary good to create opportunities to improve production processes and help the brand standout in the marketplace with its variable marking and coding efforts.

Variable marking and coding isn’t a necessary evil – it’s a positive good that benefits the consumer and the brand,” says Liz Churchill.

Read the entire article in the first 2016 issue of Patterns: