Right now, SmartLabel is in its infancy; few consumers have heard of it and only a dedicated few are probably actively scanning QR codes and looking at smartlabel landing pages as they shop, which feeds into the narrative that smartlabel is a great way to ‘bury’ GMO disclosures.
Should SmartLabels become ubiquitous, however, the first listings you will likely see on a google search for Hershey bars or Chex cereal are their smartlabel pages, which means what’s on those pages will suddenly matter a great deal, predicts Label Insight chief marketing officer Patrick Moorhead.
Indeed, says Moorhead, smartlabel landing pages are arguably the very last place to ‘bury’ information, and may ultimately become more important for your business than your company website or your facebook page.
This isn’t about QR codes
Getting bogged down in debates over QR codes or GMOs is therefore missing the bigger picture, says Moorhead.
“Yes, the [new federal] GMO labeling bill will likely galvanize food manufacturers of all sizes to consider using smartlabel because it provides a ready-made platform for disclosing the information that the law requires, but SmartLabel isn’t just a GMO disclosure tool, and QR codes are probably not the primary way most people will actually access the SmartLabel pages. Most people will probably just type in the brand on google on their mobile phone.”
Once SmartLabel pages start indexing on search results, he predicts, they start becoming a “new mass awareness brand touchpoint. Customers increasingly will care more about what’s on your smartlabel page when they search you brand than what’s on your TV commercial.”
You can syndicate smartlabel data to Amazon, InstaCart
And when this happens, it may be easier to see the ROI, said Moorhead, who notes that brands that work with Label Insight to populate SmartLabel landing pages are beginning to see the bigger picture.
“Their SmartLabel page portfolio is now in a place where they can begin to do things like syndicate that data to Amazon, to InstaCart, they can optimize those pages in SEO so when you type in Hellmann’s on Amazon you get the same view of their product in there as you get on an organic search on google or on the smart label pages directly or via Hellmans dot com.”
The functionality is not yet available on the SmartLabel homepage for dietitians, journalists and industry stakeholders to use it as a central resource for comparing data about multiple brands, although this could come in future, he said.
“What my gut tells me is that the functionality of the SmartLabel.org site will matter less than how the brand pages behave across the internet in a syndicated way, so training google and amazon to pull data from smartlabel, so it won’t matter if you visit smartlabel.org or not.”
They can knock out GMO compliance along the way
Not surprisingly perhaps, given the GMA is backing the initiative, SmartLabels were a hot topic of conversation at the recent GMA leadership forum, he added: “I think you’re going to find a more rapid acceleration of SmartLabel as you have senior leaders hearing about it and understanding it not only as a thing we should to but more from the point that it is a new consumer facing touchpoint for our brands.
“They see that they can knock out the GMO compliance along the way, but this is about transparency ROI and ingredient storytelling. You can do the minimum to comply with GMO legislation, or you can use SmartLabel to enhance trust between your brand and consumers and drive loyalty, which results in long-term value.”
Each product that is part of the GMA-backed SmartLabel scheme has a landing page detailing hundreds of product attributes, from third-party certifications and sustainability information, to whether or not a product is made with GMOs or allergens that are not part of the ‘big eight.’
This information can be pulled up by scanning QR codes on products or via an online search enabling consumers and industry stakeholders to research, compare and contrast multiple brands and products online because the data is presented in a consistent format.
Brands that are already working with Label Insight - which has collected data on 228,000+ products on US grocery store shelves and records multiple attributes, from certifications to ingredients - can seamlessly populate SmartLabel webpages via the Label Insight platform, as it already houses all of the data required by the SmartLabel scheme.
Companies that don’t currently work with Label Insight can start populating the Label Insight database in order to participate in the SmartLabel scheme at minimal cost, says the company, which has been working with companies of all sizes to help them participate in the initiative.
It is of course possible to create SmartLabel pages on your own, says Label Insight CMO Patrick Moorhead, but it's harder than it looks. “Most of the landing pages up there right now have been created through Label Insight, mainly because we are the only third party commercial provider of smartlabel solutions that has deployed anything on behalf of CPG brands.
“Some companies have built smartlabel pages in-house, but without naming names, several of them have since called us and said you were right, this is really hard; you did 1,800 pages in the time it took us to do 30, and yours are way better.”