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Bar Codes Apps Allow Consumers To Make Informed Choices

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday April 25th, 2012 | 2 Comments

Consumers are becoming more socially conscious. A Nielsen survey released in March found that 46 percent of global consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that have implemented sustainability programs. Nielsen defines those consumers as socially-conscious consumers. The survey found that 76 percent of socially conscious respondents said they look for opinion and information posted online by other consumers, and 59 percent said they are more likely to use social media to help make purchase decisions. That is good news for OpenLabel, a smart phone app that allows users to scan a bar code and get crowd-sourced information. At present OpenLabel is in Beta and only available for iPhone users, but Android will follow.

“The Open Label is remarkably simple,” OpenLabel CEO Scott Kennedy says in a YouTube video. Anyone who has a smart phone “can scan a bar code on any product and immediately see what people say about it,” Kennedy says. Once a person scans the bar code, they will see “a bunch of comments in various categories.” Users can even vote comments up or down, report comments that “you feel it shouldn’t be there,” and follow other users or organizations.

When Kennedy markets OpenLabel he doesn’t “have to push anything,” he stated in an email. The reason marketing is relatively easy for Kennedy is that consumers are “demanding more information about the things they are buying, so all we are doing is building up the community.” In other words, there are enough socially conscious consumers out there that OpenLabel sells itself.

The era of the socially conscious bar code scan apps

There are other bar code apps for the socially conscious consumer. Free2Work, available for both Android and iPhone users, is one that rates companies and brands on their policies to prevent child labor using an “A” to “F” scale. The app allows consumers to browse through a list of industries to see which companies have been rated. In addition, consumers can share information through social media, and even help add to Free2Work’s information on a product or company.

The GoodGuide app, also available for both Android and iPhone users, gives users ratings for health, environment and social responsibility on over 50,000 products and companies.The app is an addition to the website, goodguide.com, which gives similar information about products and companies.

Bar code apps like OpenLabel, Free2Work and GoodGuide put power in the hands of the socially conscious consumer who wants to have a “big impact in the world,” as Kennedy puts it. And that big impact is through the money they are spending. Just by scanning a product’s bar code a consumer can find out if a company practices sustainability. If they don’t like what they discover, they can choose to spend money elsewhere. The kind of impact these apps will have on companies has yet to be seen, but it will be interesting to watch and see.

Do you think socially conscious bar code apps will move more companies to implement sustainable policies?


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  • http://peter-salinger.myopenid.com/ Peter Salinger

    pretty decent presentation- I had this idea years ago and can’t believe no one has done it yet. Kind of Yelp but with a scanner.

  • http://twitter.com/gmcheeseman Gina-Marie Cheeseman

    That’s a rather apt description: “Yelp but with a scanner.” I do love bar code apps in general, and OpenLabel sounds like an interesting one. I can’t wait until it’s available for Android phones.