Ultimate Guide: How to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging

How to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging | Booklexia Content Marketing , cannabis marketing, cannabis writer

How to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging

What are QR Codes?

QR Codes are two-dimensional barcodes that first gained traction from grocery store product packaging. Initially created for process optimization within the auto industry, QR Codes have found their way into mobile marketing following the widespread adoption of smartphones.

“QR” stands for “Quick Response”, referring to the instantaneous access to the information stored within the Code.

QR Codes are still continuing to grow in popularity because the technology behind it is “open source”, meaning it’s available for everyone to use. Add that wide availability to the significant advantages of larger data storage and high fault tolerance than conventional barcodes, and it’s easy to see why QR Codes are so widely used.

At first, the black and white checkered pixel patterns look like a miniature crossword puzzle - - but, you know, really randomized.

But, if you look closer, you’ll be able to identify the different structures and alignments. In order for the QR scanner to be able to identify and read a QR Code, the Code must be square and structured with the key elements necessary to ensure the information is read correctly.

Now, while QR Codes are picking up steam within the smartphone -owning crowd - - a statistic that means numerous opportunities for creative promotions and marketing.

Even with that popularity, nobody wants to have their phone constantly blowing up with text messages and notifications from the QR Codes they’ve scanned.

Fortunately, there are innovative (and effective) ways to not only get your customers to scan the QR Codes, but to also boost your brand’s awareness in the process.

How to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging | Booklexia Content Marketing, cannabis marketing, cannabis writer

Who Is Using QR Codes?

After struggling to catch on, QR Codes are now becoming core aspects of mobile marketing strategies. Recent data shows usage of QR Codes has increased, with 34% of US smartphone users stating they have scanned at least one QR Code - - a percentage that jumps to 46% for tablet users.

Recent data collected by Juniper Research predicts the number of QR coupons redeemed via mobile devices will reach a staggering 5.3 billion by 2022.

Coded coupons that were redeemed via mobile back in 2017, on the other hand, reached approximately 1.3 billion. By 2022, Juniper expects more than 1 billion mobile devices will have access to coupons and customer loyalty cards through the use of QR Codes.

This surge in popularity is fueled by the built-in QR functionality of smartphones. Apple, in particular, stands out with the QR reader included as part of the camera application on the newest iPhones.

The previous lack of a built-in QR reader was proving to be a real hindrance, requiring consumers to download a separate QR Code scanner app. With this latest improvement, brands everywhere have started to take advantage of a now-increasingly-growing audience.

Upstate Hemp Co., for example, includes QR Codes on all of their packaging, which can then be scanned by customers for instant access to lab results and strain information.

Image: Upstate Hemp Co.

Image: Upstate Hemp Co.


Even Target recently announced a QR Code-based payment system that scans offers directly to device-stored payment cards, which can then be scanned at checkout for instant payment. No need to fuss with cash in the checkout line!

With consumers becoming increasingly mobile, and brand experiences changing and evolving, QR Codes prove to be a more valuable content marketing strategy than ever before.

QR Codes and Different Types of Packaging

Whether your goal is to get customer feedback, promote your social media accounts, drive traffic to your website, or simply make it easier for your customers to reach out to you, adding a QR Code to your packaging that leads to your specific information will boost the value of your product packaging and helps make your brand stand out.

Using QR Codes on product packaging is an effective digital marketing tool because it’s so easy to scan the QR Codes, taking the customer directly - and instantly - to the information they’re looking for. This is an excellent way of positioning your brand as a helpful resource, ensuring your business stands out in your customers’ minds.

In such a diverse industry, there are myriad branding opportunities for every type of packaging.

Three main types of packaging on which to effectively use QR Codes:


Primary Packaging

Ultimate Guide: How to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging | Booklexia Content Marketing, cannabis marketing, cannabis writer

The container that holds the product itself is the primary packaging. This packaging can be paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, or metal containers. The labels on these should include the potency, cannabinoids and the ratio, sativa/indica/hybrid, warning labels, harvest date, producer, and producer info (such as website or social profile).

They should also be aesthetically appealing, so they both stand out and are recognizably your brand to the consumer.

There are numerous opportunities to creatively and effectively use QR Codes on product packaging of this type, especially because customers tend to hold onto the containers for a long time after purchasing.

Give customers valuable information, such as how the product was produced / processed by including a video QR Code to show a series of videos, direct them to your lab results, or send them to your website or blog post. You can also use QR Codes on product packaging like this to encourage your customers to share photos of them enjoying your product, no matter where they are.

Creative and innovative, this is a great way to grow your social media following and expand your audience reach.

Secondary Packaging


The secondary packaging supports the primary packaging, and is the container that indirectly holds the product. This is the box that holds a pack of capsules or the big bag that holds individually wrapped edibles.

Like primary packaging, the labels on the secondary packaging holds the valuable information about the product. There are also tons of ways to use QR Codes on product packaging of this type, such as linking to an online promotion or giveaway with a Coupon QR Code OR using PDF QR Codes to give customers a product write-up that tells them all about what they just bought and are about to enjoy.

Tertiary Packaging

How to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging | Booklexia Content Marketing, cannabis marketing, cannabis writer

Tertiary packaging groups products together, and includes pallets, cartons, bags, and corrugated boxes. While the primary purpose of tertiary packaging is to transport the products from point A to point B, you can still take advantage of the opportunity for brand marketing by using QR codes on the tertiary packaging. For example, you could add a QR Code to the delivery boxes as a way to let people know more about your company.


Ways to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging


You’ve probably seen QR Codes on fast food containers and cups, linking to nutritional information. This is what everyone’s used to seeing, and it’s a great use of QR Codes. They provide the consumers with the information they are looking for - - what is inside the product they are about to consume.

But, QR Codes can do so much more.

Some products need QR Codes to tell the undecided consumer exactly what they are buying and add value to the products that would give that brand an edge. All while still building consumer-brand trust and encouraging customer retention.

So, what are some creative ways to use QR Codes on product packaging? Here are a few ideas that will help boost sales by adding more value to any product:

  • Demonstrate the product. A customer wants a vape pen or battery they see in your case, but never noticed the small type that explains it lights up when it use. When they aren’t sure about how discreet the pen would be, your budtender can show them a video linked to the QR Code that shows how the pen actually works. This will save customers from returning opened products the next day - - and leaving negative reviews.

  • Make additional pitches for the product that are too long to be covered in a 30-second social media video or store conversation with your budtender.

  • Make it easy for customers to subscribe to your email list by using QR Codes on product packaging linked to your short email signup for. Products that do this report a notable rise in email subscribers, which means more opportunities for marketing efforts and loyalty sales.

  • Share customer reviews and action shots of your products or store to make your brand stand out from the others that don’t display their reviews. Or make it easy for their customers to find!

  • Offer a free catalog, printables, or eBook downloads via QR Codes on product packaging.

  • Include QR Codes linking to video tutorials so customers can learn to do it themselves. If you’ve ever opened a poorly written and confusing instruction manual, then you can probably appreciate a well-executed video tutorial showing the actual parts and how it all works. The same can be said for your customers. For example, you could use QR Codes on packaging for rolling papers, showing the customer how to roll a joint. Or how to do advanced joint rolling. This is also a great way to be “green”, since you’re replacing paper instructions with video.

  • Keep track of which stores are selling more of your products via QR Code scans, sending back information from the customer. This will help you make decisions about marketing outreach, such as which practices are working and what needs to be improved, changed, or just completely thrown out.

Ultimate Guide: How to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging | Booklexia Content Marketing , cannabis marketing , cannabis writer

  • Include QR Codes on product packaging that link to similar products available in the store, so the customer can be made aware of additional purchases that compliment their current purchase before the customer is even rung up by the budtender.

  • With major concerns about cannabis products being mislabeled or brands not being totally honest about their lab results, QR Codes on product packaging can help sales by providing relevant information on where and how the product was grown / produced / processed, the third-party lab results, and company information.

  • Encourage customers to get creative with your product. CBD is, according to articles like “A Million Uses for CBD,” a ‘miracle’ cannabinoid. But, nobody really writes articles about the very first use that resulted in it becoming packaged and sold. So, if you can come up with even a fraction of a million ways to use your product, then you’re going to be leagues ahead of your competition.. Well, unless you’re competing against CBD itself!

  • Use QR Codes on product packaging to give buyers an instant discount coupon they can use right then and there at checkout.

  • Give your customers opportunities to win giveaways, discounts, prizes, etc..

With so many ways to use QR Codes for product packaging, the applications are only limited by your creativity. A little brainstorming can result in at least twenty or so other great uses for QR Codes. Using a beautified QR Code can highlight the Code placement, but without having to sacrifice the aesthetics of your packaging design. So, when it comes to discovering how to use QR Codes on product packaging, get creative with finding ways to bring your customers the solutions they’re looking for.

How to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging | Booklexia Content Marketing, cannabis marketing, cannabis writer

Tips for Effectively Using QR Codes on Product Packaging


1. Check the Material

Be careful to not choose product packaging that reflects too much light, as this will compete with the scannability of the QR Code.

Whichever type of material you use for your product packaging, the QR Code should be printed in the best resolution possible. Professional printers will require high-quality images, so provide the QR Code image in either .eps or .svg format. With high volume print jobs not being exactly cheap, it’s best to request proofs to test scan before printing a huge batch. You don’t want to waste money printing out a QR Code that won’t work!

2. Plan the Placement

Avoid placing QR Codes adjacent to barcodes, as that will make it difficult for the QR reader to scan the Code. If your product packing has both a barcode and a QR Code, place them on opposite sides.

3. Go Big

Generally speaking, QR Codes are most effective when they are at least 2 x 2 centimeters (approx. 0.8 x 0.8 inches) in size. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and print the QR Code bigger than that on the packaging.

Also avoid printing on edges that cut off the QR Code or placing it on uneven surfaces, as that will distort the image too much for the QR Reader to scan it.

4. Add Color

The QR Codes on product packaging don’t always have to be black and white. Which is great, because adding color is the easiest way to make your Codes come to life. Play around with your brand colors or your campaign theme, and design your QR Code to be as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional.

5. Add a Call-to-Action

To improve the chances of your QR Code being scanned, include a strong call-to-action on the product packaging. This will let the customers know what content they can expect to be getting when they scan the Code.

Combine the above tip by using QR Codes on product packaging that are both colorful and hold a powerful message that encourages browsing customers to scan the Code and learn more about your brand and products.

Track QR Codes for Better Content Marketing

Improve your content marketing strategy by utilizing the insights gained by tracking your QR Codes on product packaging. Create different QR Codes for your products and track which type of QR Codes performs the best. This will help you adjust and plan your next campaign to maximize its effectiveness.

Ultimate Guide: How to Use QR Codes on Product Packaging | Booklexia Content Marketing

Final Thoughts

What are some of the most creative uses of QR Codes you’ve seen? Have you used QR Codes on product packaging for your own brand? How did that go? Share your thoughts and experiences down in the comments!


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