Beauty and the Barcode: Microsoft Tags Hit the Shelves

Herbal Essences and Tag

2D Barcodes may solve the age old problem which conditioner is best for my hair type?

Unless you're buying your hair care products at the salon, choosing the right products can be overwhelming. That girl stocking the aisle at Walgreen's doesn't know the difference between a sulphate and sulfite, and is unlikely to provide information extensive enough to make an informed decision. Historically, brands were forced to do the bulk of their advertising out of the store; hoping the message was persuasive enough to sway the customer next time she found herself confronted with a product decision.

 Herbal Essences addresses this issue with a new retail campaign utilizing Microsoft's proprietary 2D barcode, the Microsoft Tag. The Tags will be found on in-store shelf talkers, easily accessible by smartphone enabled shoppers. The primary goal of the shelf-talkers is to help shoppers determine which collection of hair care products are best suited for their hair type. The 2D barcode serves as the perfect interactive tool for finding the right product. Scanning the Tag allows shoppers to view detailed descriptions of each hair care collection that corresponds to their hair type. Don't know your hair type? Take a quiz to determine it. Also available via 2D barcode: product reviews and YouTube videos with tips on hair styling.

Herbal Essences has executed the campaign in over 53, 000 stores nationwide, including CVS/pharmacy and Walgreens.

shelf talker 2d barcodesMicrosoft Tag is Microsoft's proprietary 2D barcode. Like other 2D barcodes, it can be displayed anywhere to connect almost anything in the real world to information, entertainment, and interactive experiences on a mobile phone. The primary point of difference between a Tag and standard 2D barcode is that Tags come in color, and can be customized with a logo, product image or other design. Tags are scanned using the free downloadable Microsoft Tag Reader at

The beauty behind this Herbal Essences campaign lies in its usefulness. With the novelty of the 2D barcode withering somewhere in 2010, brands need to seek out uses for this technology that provide an actual benefit to the consumer. In this case, the Tags provide valuable information that fosters good decision-making at the very location where the decision is being made. This assistance itself will make for a favorable brand impression, one that will expanded when the customer arrives home to find they have actually chosen the right conditioner for their hair type.

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