Beer and QR Codes: It’s about the experience

It’s common to see QR Codes stuck on things in a disconnected way. Businesses go to the effort of finding a QR Code maker online and generating a QR Code…that just leads to the company website. Like people couldn’t google it. It’s as if using a code was a badge of proof that a company is ‘down’ and ‘hip’ with the digital age. 

This kind of misses the point of what a code really does. The point is that codes work best when they take people on a journey.

It’s a trigger. It opens a door to an experience that creates a relationship between people and product.

Here are some innovative examples of how breweries and bars have used QR Codes to interact with customers.

First we look at Budweiser, who put Happy Hour into the hands of their patrons.

Next, New Belgium Brewers used a code on 12-packs of their Pale Ale to link customers to an entertaining and exclusive mobile-optimised website. Features include a funny video,

a link to the local New Belgium facebook page, and the brewer’s recommendations for food, books and music that complement the beer. There are even links to the songs, so you can find out if the tunes really do work any magic on your beer experience.

Harry’s Bar in Singapore took a different approach, creating a QR Code to get patrons to socialise during Happy Hour. Tags with codes are hung on beer bottle necks. The code on the tag allows customers to embed a message in the code. They buy another beer, hang the activated tag on the neck and have it sent over anonymously to someone they want to chat to. When scanned, the message pops up along with the option of starting an online chat with the beer’s sender. The result? The bar was buzzing and men bought twice as much beer as usual during Happy Hour.

Massachusetts’ brewery 50 Back centres its brand around supporting American troops. Their tag line is “The Brew of the Brave” and 50 per cent of their proceeds go to military charities. 50 Back used a code as part of a novel campaign called “Buy a soldier a beer” to grow awareness and positive association with their brand. Scan the code and you’re taken to a site that allows you to buy a soldier a beer for US$1.99. Over 7,400 bottles of beer have been delivered to troops in this way. Those customers now associate 50 Back with military qualities such as valour and loyalty, as well as supporting military families, which is a particularly poignant issue in America right now.

If you’re reading all of this and thinking, “That’s quite cool, but I don’t sell beer,” look over the campaigns again and ask yourself if any of them actually sell you beer.

What they sell is an experience, whether that’s the small triumph of a free beverage, a fun game to play with friends, a chuckle-worthy video, or a low-risk chance to chat up a good-looking stranger.

If the experience is a positive one, people will both a) share it with their friends and, b) associate the product with having a good time.

The product doesn’t have to be beer….but let’s face it, it helps!

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