Brands are now communicating with consumers about sustainability via QR codes – here’s how

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92 million tonnes of clothing-related waste is thrown away every year. To put that into perspective, that’s the equivalent of a garbage truck full of clothes sent to the landfill every second.

The good news is that this excessive waste has spurred innovation in a way that not only benefits our planet, but also gives brands a more transparent and personalized way to communicate with consumers. And a few pioneering companies are leading the charge.

Using Digital IDs for Authenticated Resale

Resale is huge and the industry is growing rapidly. Isolated from supply chain bottlenecks and benefiting from an increased focus on sustainability, the resale market is growing 11 times faster than traditional retail and is expected to reach $77 billion over the next next five years.

So, what is the next evolution of resale? Vanessa Barboni Hallik, CEO of Another Tomorrow, believes it is important to provide reseller customers with transparency and reliable authentication. The sustainable, mission-driven luxury brand launched its resale business in April and includes digital IDs on all of its products; these IDs provide complete histories of each product. “We want luxury to be not only about quality, but also about history,” says Barboni Hallik.

To do this, the brand has partnered with EVRYTHNG, a Digimarc company and pioneer in creating digital links for products allowing consumers to view information at every stage of the item’s story. By simply using a mobile phone to take a photo of a QR code on the product or product label, customers can see information from the farm to the time the product is produced and shipped to the warehouse. This increased level of transparency gives the customer the confidence he needs to invest in a luxury piece and builds loyalty.

“It was great for the buyer,” says Barboni Hallik. “Our customers know they have a brand that is not only willing to support the concept of resale, but also support the product experience itself and provide increased access to information and transparency.”

Provide localized information and minimize single-use products

Patagonia is another brand that puts its money behind its values. Indeed, 94% of the brand’s product range is now made from recycled materials. Committed to minimizing its impact on the environment, the brand has also partnered with EVRYTHNG to use QR codes to direct customers to localized shopping experiences.

“Our QR codes act as a digital gateway between Patagonia and its customers – it’s a one-to-one channel,” says Judy Moon. According to Digimarc’s global head of apparel, luxury and beauty, EVRYTHNG’s QR codes allow Patagonia to provide customers with a highly localized experience, sharing personalized product information, in the language local to the customer, while minimizing the use of single-use labels.

“We add the QR code to our packaging instead of printing all the information about product features, care instructions, material innovations and local activism initiatives on the hang tags,” says Jennifer Patrick. The Global Director of Packaging and Brand at Patagonia says digital transformation has already helped Patagonia save more than 170,000 pounds of single-use paper from ending up in landfills. Their program has gone from 20 hang tags and 453 unique inserts to 2 hang tags and 4 legally required tags.

In addition to being more responsible, there is the personalized experience for Patagonia customers. Moon says EVRYTHNG’s dynamic redirect capability will redirect them to a local product page, based on a number of criteria such as location or date.

“It improved our customer engagement,” says Patrick. “We talk to our customers in their own language and talk about local initiatives. So the use of QR codes on hang tags has been quite an amazing move for Patagonia in terms of cost savings, sustainability, and improved customer engagement.

Significant benefits for brands

Digitizing product information and product histories also has significant benefits for brands that choose to embrace this innovation.

They get data. “The brand understands exactly how its customers interact with its products. Brands can also conduct surveys and get ratings,” says Digimarc’s Moon.

Information can be collected at all points of sale. Whether products are sold by a third party or from a brand’s app, site, or store, brands can still collect information. “It’s something brands have been missing and it’s especially important for values-driven brands,” says Barboni Hallik. “We want to understand our customer and consistently uphold our values.”

There is a clear return on investment. “There are cost savings, paper savings, time savings, and in Another Tomorrow’s case, they’re able to resell more product,” Moon says.

It helps to identify the counterfeit. Digital IDs offer a very robust brand integrity solution as they allow brands to track products end-to-end and identify instances of counterfeiting. “And the indirect effect of that is to reduce the number of counterfeit products that will end up in landfills,” says Moon.

While pending legislation would place increasing demands on brands to operate more transparently and convey detailed product information, innovations such as digital IDs become even more important. “Brands that don’t believe in trying to save our home planet will fall by the wayside,” says Patagonia’s Patrick. “We’re getting to a point where it’s a necessity. The brands that embrace this now and educate the consumer now will be the ones that succeed in the future.

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