Carrefour stores
 
Carrefour stores in Shanghai are embracing QR codes as a tool for communicating food safety, quality, and freshness of vegetables and fruits to customers. The codes within pricing boards take local to the next level by allowing the customer to view the production place and date of the item, the business license of its supplier, and other information regarding the farm.
 
Carrefour stores QR
 
The in-store signage also assists in creating a deeper relationship between farm, store, and customer. According to Fresh Plaza, the intent is to improve food safety and freshness, and also increase farmers' incomes at the same time.
 
When our team visited this Shanghai location, not all produce had this option. For example, the selections of imported and organic produce didn't have QR signage. 
 
Carrefour stores
 
The cause and effect of food safety in China may have played a role in implementing this marketing and merchandising strategy, but we believe that there is more to glean from this type of communication. QR codes are not simply for directing a consumer to a facebook page. This type of implementation brings traceability to the forefront -- and inspires a sense of connection and trust across a global production and supply chain.
 
By divulging the names and relationships of Carrefour's suppliers to the community, including it's competitors, they may have gained more loyalty longterm. 
 
FOOD + FASHION
Supermodel Karlie Kloss and Superchef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar have teamed up with American Express to gift 31,500 of Karlie Kookies in various NYC locations today, February 13th {Trendland}. Available online here.
 
FASHION
  • Nicholas Kirkwood has teamed up with UK department store Selfridges to launch a new shoe line inspired by the new film "Oz The Great And Powerful," {Vogue UK}
  • According to the ForeSee Mobile Satisfaction Index: Holiday Retail Edition, nearly 70% of survey respondents engaged in  "showrooming"— using a mobile phone while in a retail store during the 2012 holiday season —  and most of those consumers (62%) accessed that store's site or app. {PR Newswire}
 
FOOD
  • Preserving and fermentation will be featured in the upcoming issue of David Chang and McSweeney's quarterly journal, Lucky Peach. {Eater}
  • Nestlé is launching a new digital scanning system in the UK, designed to provide customers with smartphone access to nutritional information. {Food Manufacture}

CULTURE
  • Greta Garbo's wardrobe and extensive couture collection is the subject of a new exhibition opening in London at Belmacz Gallery. {Vogue}
trends in 2012
 
As the year winds down, blogs frequently revisit popular posts rather than publishing new content because they know that you, the reader, will be busy ending the year, finalizing budgets, and spending the holiday’s with your loved ones in December.
 
This year, we’re decided to take a similar approach with a trademark “Trendscaping” twist by divulging our most popular posts of the year, regardless of post date. It’s a sneak peak into our analytics and how various industries respond to trends – sometimes over multiple years.
 
The top ten hits, since 2004.
 
1. Upcycling in Paris
It’s no surprise that our post from Merci is still among the most read – have you seen the photos from our visit? The blog post from September 2011 highlighted a creative approach to consumerism with cause related messaging and merchandising savvy. Rediscover Merci ->
 
2. Hermès “love affair” with India
The world is so much bigger than the American perspective. And there’s something bigger than Slumbdog Millionaire that has kept India in our future sights. This particular post from last year proves that we’re not the only ones inspired by the rich traditions as Hermès has launched its second collection limited edition Indian sari range to "connect" with Indian culture. Remember India ->
 
3. Old School Brew
We highlighted the launch of Churchkey Can Co. in April of 2012 because the unique throwback packaging was unique, functional, and highlighted Lessism — one of five trends we highlighted at the beginning of the year. Return to Retro ->
 
4. Scan it
Here’s a post about QR codes that you might have missed in our newsletter, but has remained quite popular in terms of direct traffic from search, facebook, and twitter.  It’s full of suggestions on design implications and user demographics that suggest it’s time to embrace the technology. Reconsider QR Codes ->
 
5. The Next Downton Abbey
If you love the nostalgia and escapism of Downton Abbey, this post from March is for you. Set to air in England in 2013, this new period drama explores British social history and promises to “make shopping as thrilling as sex.” Enough said. Repeat Mr. Selfridges ->
 
6. Cornelia & Co
Since our blogs inception in 2004, our readers have been consistently interested in our insights and thoughts on visual merchandising at retail and specialty stores. At Cornelia & Co., the stars align with something to captivate the minds, eyes, and wallets with visual excellence. Re-visualize Barcelona ->
 
7. A Familiar Concept
To be honest, we were a little shocked that this post about was so popular, then again – one should never doubt the power of Starbucks and coffeehouse design to captivate our readers. Sustainable, reclaimed, and historic are not just strategies, but elements that link to the authencity that customers and brands crave. Revisit the Design->
 
8. Cookware trends: clay pot revival
It was not long after we wrote this post that we started to see national specialty kitchen stores stock up on clay round casserole dishes and tagines. Fortunately for the owners of Bram in Sonoma, the expertise, availability, and depth of inventory gave this small retailer a distinctive advantage with direct importing. Restock Bram ->
 
9. Food merchandising trends: color vs. function
Visual merchandising has been a cornerstone of our blog and this post from 2009, outlining suggestive selling based on consumers desire to have a closer relationship with their food, has consistently been one of the most read. Regardless of your industry, it’s hard not to find tips at your local farmers market on how to create a more authentic presentation.
 
10. Wine sorceress
As fashion continues to embrace the astrological trend, it's only logical that other industries adopt tactics and themes that resonate with a design-conscious demographic. VML wines combine celestial objects and biodynamic philosophy that tipped the scale from fad to trend.
 
Binchotan Toothbrush
Binchotan Toothbrush
 
Forget the frivolous Maison Martin Margiela Ostrich feather pen fad and turn your attention to charcoal for an intelligent home novelty.
 
We've watched as Japanese bamboo charcoal at Boulettes Larder has gained popularity among the Gastronomes, and have long been enamored with the Chikuno Cube as an all-natural air freshener, but last month we were delighted to see other Binchotan products — like the famous "black toothbrush", known for radiating negative ions and providing a powerful deodorizing effect by removing the plaque and the cause of bad breath — gain mainstream appeal.
 
Binchotan
 
No longer an online exclusive, this cohesive heath and beauty Bichotan offering was spotted on a recent trendscaping safari at Inform in Vancouver, Canada. Using a QR technology as part of the product signage, the simple visual presentation was able to communicate the vast benefits of traditional and contemporary Japanese aesthetics to overseas markets.
 
We believe that the strength of merchandising is often in simplicity (and quality never goes out of style), and adding the QR code provides instantaneous customer service.
 
Square X Starbucks
 
FOOD
  • Square partners with Starbucks to processing all U.S. credit and debit card transactions this fall. {Tech Crunch}
  • Customers determine the origin of their steak with a smart phone app at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City. {Restaurant Hospitality}
  • Perfume-maker Velds has now come up with the first fragrance which they claim aids weight loss. {Springwise}
 
 
FASHION
  • London Olympic swimmers are not the only ones to benefit of technological advances in their swimsuits. {LA Times}
  • Lingo: Champion Cyclist Bradley Wiggins is known by fans and journalists as the Modfather. {Hall Five}
  • We're hoping that Anna Piaggi's dance up to the heavens looked something like this. RIP {Fashion is Great}
 
 
CULTURE
  • [Study] GenX has surpassed Baby Boomers on several key measures of credit card usage and behavior. {Global Newswire}
  • A fantastic treasure trove of illustrated ads created for top brands by Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss). {Flavorwire}
  • When did we get so nasty? {Social Media Marketing Blog}
QR codes plants
QR flowers
 
Plants with QR codes are popping up in garden centers for spring.
 
When we scanned the tag for the MiniFamous™ Compact Orange Calibrachoa (aka Mini Petunia), we were directed to BloomIQ — a generic online tool for gardening — instead of planting or care information for the specific plant we scanned. It was a little bit of a let down considering the potential to educate, sell, and cross-sell products.
 
Unfortunately, the most unsettling part of the marketing flop occurred when we returned to the office to write this post. The name of the plant above, "MiniFamous™ Compact Orange Calibrachoa", is not searchable within BloomIQ database. To find the correct plant info, the user must search "Petunia" or "MiniFamous".
 
Just because you can add a QR code to your promotional materials, does not mean you should.
Versace H&M
Quick and easy, never cheesy...
 
RETAIL
{image: H&M}
 
 
FOOD
 
CULTURE
 
A compilation of the best, relevant, and interest-worthy ideas and news from the past week...
 
CULTURE
Gilt Taste
{image: Gilt.com}
 
- Is “Content and Commerce” the future? As magazines & retail converge, where will the editorial line be drawn?
- NYC needs this: Virtual grocery shopping via phone using QR codes at subway stops in Prague.
 
 
FASHION
- Watch out Pinterest, PPR just invested $10m in Joe Einhorn’s company new website: The Fancy. (follow or re-pin @trendscaping on Pinterest)
- As Marc Jacobs-Dior talks halt; Fashionologie reports that Alexander Wang, Raf Simons, and Jason Wu are now being considered.
- According to IBM’s Coremetrics Benchmark, Mobile retail traffic projected to more than double this holiday season.
 
FOOD
{photo: EvolutionFresh.com}
 
- Starbucks, acquiring juice brand Evolution Fresh, will attempt to do with juice what it did with coffee.
- No surprises here: 2012 food trends, including the rise of Korean food trucks and fine dining, focus on consumer need according to Nation's Restaurant News
 
We've got a new obsession that does not involve exceptional shoes, the rise of mini pastries, or exceptional retail experiences... The QR code.
 
In the weeks since we posted statistics on who is currently scanning these funny little codes, it has become more apparent how this trend has potential for greatness once executed flawlessly. And since we're far from experts in this digital space, we decided to turn to our go-to experts: Uzi Askenazi and Julie Askenazi of Medium.
 
What is the future of QR codes?
Uzi: QR codes offer great potential for brands and retailers, but consumers, particularly female consumers, have been slow to embrace them. Unfortunately, a fair percentage of QR integration appears to be initiated for trend purposes more so than retail use, as evident by poor placement or linking to websites that are not mobile-optimized.
 
Uzi and Julie, how can a campaign appeal to a female demographic?
Uzi: Macy's "Backstage Pass" campaign is a great example of integrating QR codes into a retail promotional strategy.
 
Macy's Backstage Pass

Julie: I also really like the Macy’s campaign, because it’s not just making great use of current technology, it’s leveraging their celebrity partnerships and presenting new, unique content to consumers — while complementing the brand identity. By insetting the QR codes into the red stars they’ve made new technology friendlier and as a result, customers are more likely to engage in the campaign.

In our previous post we stressed the importance of creating brand cohesivity. What are some basic design tips you share with your clients?
Julie: QR codes can be a strong marketing tool, but they should augment messaging — not become the message. If used properly, QR codes allow for cleaner packaging and print design since supportive content can be contained on the website and accessed via the scan. Unitag allows users the flexibility to create codes using brand colors, which is especially important for prestige and luxury brands where aesthetics are critical.
 
Can you give us an example of a prestige brand that has created campaign that is clean and cohesive?
Julie: The current Supersmile print campaign is a great example of QR integration. A powerful headline reinforces the product benefit with a message that is so unexpected from a prestige brand you want to scan the code for more information. Unfortunately, when I scanned the code, I wasn’t served the Testimonials page I was expecting. Instead, I received an error message, apparently due to the link being miscoded when the QR code was generated. This is a sad, expensive example of the QR code learning curve that lies ahead for both brands and consumers.
 
 
It's so unfortunate that we don't know the content related to the Supersmile campaign! Are fail rates common?
Uzi: They should not be if you have a proper testing protocol. It's fairly easy to generate and customize QR codes. Apparently, if you set a high error level when creating a code, you can erase parts of it and replace it with an image. How cool is that?
 
Very cool indeed. But since this is newish to users, are there circumstances where design overpowers the concept?
Julie: As much as I love this Angry Birds print concept, I would be concerned that many people won’t realize they’re looking at a QR code, which would seemingly defeat the purpose of the ad.
 
 
Lastly, how might a brand use a QR code to simplify messaging?
Julie: Other brands are missing the opportunity to fully engage their market by not using QR codes. L'Oréal’s Youth Code print campaign includes a link to the brand’s microsite but only in very small type near the bottom. A QR code is likely to have achieved higher click-through and it would have aesthetically complemented the product name and visuals, while also adding a greater sense of technology to the brand.
 
 
We would love to see more campaigns integrate design and QR codes effectively. Unfortunately, 27% of the QR codes we scanned in the November 2011 issue of InStyle failed. If you see a great example that you would like to share, please tweet it to us or post it on our facebook page.
 
 ---
Uzi Ashkenazi and Julie Ashkenazi are co-founders of Medium— a strategic eCommerce and online marketing studio dedicated building unique, compelling and successful brands with cohesive design aesthetics and analytics.
 
QR
It seems like we can't escape QR codes. Just today, when sending out the In Your Head Newsletter, our email marketing service produced one (above) for sharing so we thought it was time we addresses these funny new barcodes.
 
A QR code (Quick Response code) is a type of barcode first designed by Toyota in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. More recently, these barcodes have become popular for marketing purposes, directing customers to a specific URL or even to compose an SMS message. To view the content enclosed in the barcode, users need to download a QR code scanner for their mobile phone.
 
Not sold yet? Perhaps it's time to reconsider. While a QR code is still new to most consumers, itʼs a fast growing trend that is becoming more common practice due to the rapid adoption of smartphones. Below are statistics on who is currently scanning QR codes.
 
 
Most recently, businesses and brands have used these special 2-D barcodes to communicate additional product information or to advertise loyalty programs and dispense coupons but these tactics only scratch the surface how QR codes might be used in the future. Here's a comprehensive list of ways to use QR codes from Mark the Marketer.
 
We love the immediacy of the technology but, like every tactic, we caution anyone who approaches this tool with a "just slap one" attitude. QR codes, in order to be effective, need to be fully integrated into the design, theme, and messaging. Adopting this trend immediately without considering how it might work with your overall brand strategy could turn off potential customer.