The logo. A stylised abstract QR Code with the word and the sub heading: Information on tap!

Wine QR Codes – Keeping up with Changing Legislation

Things are changing in the world of wine labelling. New rules are on the horizon for EU winemakers who will soon be required to impart a whole host of regulatory and nutritional information on their wine labels. And it’s going to affect our UK vintners too if they export over the border. The good news is that the wonderfully versatile QR code will be able to shoulder the burden, as well as offer some added bonuses.

It’s been 20 years since the Food Labelling Regulations came into force in the UK, making it mandatory to include nutritional information on food packaging. But still to date, alcoholic drinks in the UK are only required to display volume and strength, plus common allergens.

However, there are calls to display nutritional information to help consumers make informed decisions about their drinking, and the government has welcomed a voluntary approach to alcohol labelling whilst it plans a consultation on a mandatory requirement. In fact, almost half of alcoholic drinks in the UK feature calorie information on their labels, despite no legal requirement.

New EU wine labelling regulations on the horizon

And over in the EU, things have taken a major leap, with a new regulation - 2021-2117 - coming into force on 8 December 2023. This will force wine producers in all member states to include a whole host of mandatory information on their wine labels.

Now, as with many things EU related, the regulation is not 100% straightforward.

On the upside, winemakers are being allowed to provide what can only be described as a vast vineyard full of information via digital means, and QR codes are included in this remit.

This is good news, because the new law requires making all of the mandatory information available in an official EU language that’s easily understood by the consumer. Now, bearing in mind there are 24 official languages in the EU, that’s going to be no mean feat.

Good thing then that wine QR codes will detect the language used by the phone that’s scanned it, and display said mandatory reams of information in said official EU language that’s easily understood by said consumer. Who by now, after taking all of this in, must be well and truly ready for a glass or three of vino.

EU regulations – an “ouch” for marketing campaigns?

Now, the downside. The new EU regulation prohibits the display of any sales or marketing material anywhere the mandatory nutritional information appears. This means that if you use your wine label QR codes to link to your winery’s website, you’ll need to make sure you are serving ‘clean’ pages, displaying only the information that’s required label wise, and nothing more.

It also means you won’t be able to use your wine bottle QR code to link consumers into your social media platforms, share discount vouchers or reward incentives or cross-sell your other wine varieties. Slightly unfair to the small time vintner who’s keen to build their brand, but it is the EU after all.

But wait, there’s more… the new EU law explicitly forbids linking to digital platforms that contain tracking software which could store data about consumers who view your labels. So that just about rules out linking to any website.

However… EU-produced wine isn’t just sold in EU countries. And this is where wine QR codes and their dynamic nature will get the better of the new legislation’s restrictive covenants. Because they let you provide different information to consumers depending on where they are located when they scan the bottle.

So for example, the EU vino enthusiast will only see the compliant digital label, whilst an English or American wine buff for example would get to see the full marketing information that’s allowable outside the EU.

Other reasons why wine label QR codes are great, inside or outside the EU

So, we’ve ascertained that wine QR codes can be automatically translated into the right language, depending on where they’re being scanned. And you can dynamically provide different information to consumers based on location. So you can tailor your marketing to those who are actually allowed to view it.

And there are other great things that using a QR code on wine bottle labels can achieve. These include being able to make a change to the information in real time anytime you like, fixing any issues post-printing without incurring huge costs and contributing to the paper waste crisis.

And you also get to avoid the conundrum of having to fit masses of information on a paper label (we’re talking energy, saturates, sugars, fat, carbs, protein and salt plus full ingredients, expiry date, serving size and product information), as well as the cost (and deplorable waste) involved in replacing existing labels.

Now, if you’re a UK or other non-EU wine producer, things get a bit more exciting. Because for your non-EU customers, you can use your wine QR codes for an array of happy things that will help build your brand, without having to worry about regulatory restrictions…

Share your story – consumers love a brand story, especially when it’s a compelling one. Your inspirational story about your new, upcoming sustainable vineyard. Or the charming insight into a 200 year-old wine estate that’s been passed from generation to generation. You can use your wine bottle QR code to share sustainability and inclusivity information, and invite consumers into your world of wine, with videos of your grape harvest, pressing, bottling, tasting and whole vineyard-to-glass journey.

Set the scene – people fall in love with more than just the tasting experience of a wine. They’re increasingly taking a vested interest in where the wine is from. The terroir and climatic conditions that led to its finish, flavour and aroma. They’re totally into where its crisp acidity, full bodied finish, brioche palette or floral aromas emanate from. With wine label QR codes, you can set the scene, introducing consumers to the source of the wine. From the rolling hillsides of the Rhône, to the undulating terrain of the Adelaide Hills, there is much you can share to inspire your audience.

Pairing tips – let’s face it, that tiny space on the back of the bottle where you cram a couple of lines in to help enthusiasts decide what food will best suit their wine just doesn’t cut it, does it? Better to go into detail about how the flavours and aromas in your varieties pair well with specific menus, and why. Food and wine pairing is something that always attracts a captive audience, and a captive audience can be a true brand ambassador.

Promotions and marketing – there are loads of ways you can use wine QR codes in a promotional sense. Scan the code to claim your reward, grab your discount on our new variety release, order a case and get 10% off… there is so much you can do to cross sell and upsell and bag yourself some brand loyalty at the same time. It’s also possible to direct consumers to your social media platforms with a wine bottle QR code, where they can follow you, review your products and share your content. In fact, the marketing opportunities with the wine bottle QR code are pretty much limitless.

IMPORTANT NOTE… It’s vital to be aware that if you’re selling your UK-produced wine in the EU, the new wine labelling laws will apply to you. This means you will be required to provide the necessary mandatory information on your labelling, and avoid sharing marketing related content at the same time with consumers in any EU member state.

Wine label QR codes – sharing information just got a whole lot easier

Bangl wine label QR codes offer multiple advantages, not least for the EU winemaker tasked with the challenge of getting reams of new mandatory information onto their labels, but also for any wine producer who’s looking to use their labels to build their brand.

Bangl wine QR codes are dynamic, multilingual and fully customisable. And our pricing plans couldn’t be simpler.

Reducing the paper waste crisis and making a contribution to global sustainability is important to us. And that’s why we’ve chosen to reward our customers by planting two trees on your behalf for every Bangl purchased.

First published: 20th August 2023 | Author: Anthony Kirrane.
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