Unique codes - inside vs outside pack

A unique code, printed onto the packaging of a product, provides a brand with knowledge. Hive enable a brand to print a unique code on its packaging. A shopper purchases the product and submits their unique code, along with some non-intrusive demographical information, in return for an incentive; examples include loyalty points, a prize draw entry or an instant win opportunity. Subsequently the brand is able to drive frequency and weight of purchase through relevant communication with the shopper.

We currently have some four billion Hive unique codes in circulation annually, across numerous household names including Walkers crisps, The Sun newspaper, Anchor butter and recently Holland’s Pies and Kettle Chips. Hive’s unique codes are composed of a random string of ten or twelve alphanumeric characters and use highly sophisticated processes that Hive has developed to ensure they’re secure and robust – consequently they're nigh-on impossible to predict, even for the most accomplished couponing-charlatan.

Some brands ask Hive to enable printing their codes discreetly inside their packaging; inside a box or bottle collar (see Holland’s Guinness puddings below), beneath the seam of a packet of crisps, or on the underside of a foil within a pack of butter or margarine. Others parade their unique codes on the outside of their packaging in full view, beneath the bar-code for instance (see our Kettle Chips promotion below), or on a colourful panel to ensure that it stands out nicely.

Inside vs outside pack codes

There are advantages to inside and outside printing methods. However as you’ll see below, we believe there are greater advantages for both the brand and the shopper when codes are printed on the outside of packaging...

Inside pack Outside pack
Security of concealed code Lower printing costs
Simple consumer experience
Maximised engagement window*

*Eh? What we mean here is that the shopper is able to engage in the promotion before, during or after they’ve consumed the product.

As mentioned, every unique code triggers an incentive, so understandably a vigilant brand-manager may have initial concerns about the security of their unique code promotion should codes be visible on the outside of a pack. One concern that we sometimes address is, “What prevents a cheeky shopper from scribbling down unique codes into their notepad or snapping images of unique codes from the packs on their way around their supermarket shop?”.

It’s what we refer to as a perceived risk. But, does it actually represent a tangible risk to a brand?

In short, no. Hive carry out extensive research into the security of unique code promotions, particularly into the risks of a conspicuous unique code that's printed outside a pack. We analysed the behaviour of our promotions’ circa four million participants so far and continue to monitor on-going activity; examining code entry patterns over various time-frames. The analysis applies a level of risk to each participant based on their activity and this enables us to draw conclusions about their authenticity. Our research is available to brands who are interested to find out more, by the way.

In summary you’ll be relieved to hear that the percentage of ‘risky’ participants within a promotion is extremely low; fewer than 0.6% of participants are considered to misuse a promotion by entering codes unethically. These naughty code-scribblers are identified by clever algorithms and dealt with sensitively. Even so, this risk is essentially inconsequential when pitched against the distinct advantages of printing on the outside of packaging - significantly lower printing overheads, an improved level of engagement and a simplified journey for the shopper. ■


To find out how Hive can help your brand with shoppers’ data and loyalty, please contact info@hiveonline.co.uk or call 01509 882910 and speak to Rachel Swann.