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Fresh Thyme Doubles Down on QR Codes

The retailer will leverage Merryfield's at-shelf Learn & Earn program, combining in-store consumer education with exclusive digital incentives.
learn & earn

Merryfield, a privately held public benefit corporation based in Boston, has teamed up with Fresh Thyme Market, which is partially owned by Meijer, to implement Merryfield's Learn & Earn program in stores.

Merryfield introduced Learn & Earn in December 2022 as an in-store consumer education, incentives and rewards program. Learn & Earn is powered by the Merryfield Rewards app and Cornerstone for Natural's Smart Shelf Tags technology. The goal of the collaboration was to increase in-store consumer engagement and influence point-of-purchase decisions through in-aisle branded digital content accessible with a smartphone.

Dedicated QR codes displayed on product price labels at-shelf can enable participating CPGs to tell their brand stories, educate Fresh Thyme shoppers on unique product attributes, and offer exclusive incentives/savings through the Merryfield app.

Scanning QR codes will immediately serve up digital content such as videos, images, product ingredients, nutritional attributes and other web content.

Fresh Thyme shoppers will begin seeing these specialized shelf tags this spring across its 71 stores in 10 states, according to a media release from Merryfield. 

Learn & Earn was designed as a “complementary and incremental” offering for brands and retailers to use in addition to other existing in-store engagement and promotional programs, per the release.

"We first added [Cornerstone’s] Smart Shelf Tags with its enhanced QR codes to help our shoppers make better informed buying decisions in-store while allowing our supplier partners to provide digital content to best present their products to our shoppers," Fresh Thyme's Jonathan Lawrence, vice president, center of store, said in the release. "Through Learn & Earn, we're now able to pair digital in-store education with exclusive at-shelf digital promotion tools and a new consumer-facing program promoting healthier choices and making wellness more accessible to more people."

Because Learn & Earn is facilitated through the Merryfield Rewards Network, participating CPGs at Fresh Thyme will have exclusive access to a suite of consumer activation and insights solutions for a real-time, holistic view of consumer purchases.

"Merryfield's partnership with Fresh Thyme goes beyond in-store education and incentives," David Mayer, founder and CEO of Merryfield, said in the release. "Our Merryfield team wants to make it easier for people to know which brands and products are right for them and their families. We're enabling people to discover healthier options with less work while connecting them to incremental savings.”

In preparation for Learn & Earn's rollout later this year, Fresh Thyme says it will reach out to its suppliers throughout the store with additional program details and information for supplier enrollment and pre-launch pricing. Learn & Earn participation is open to all natural and conventional products and brands throughout the store. 

Prior to the Learn & Earn partnership, Fresh Thyme tested the efficacy of Cornerstone’s Smart Shelf Tags, created partnership with ELi Technology, at its stores by running a year-long study in 2021.

Based on retail sales data at Fresh Thyme, wellness-focused tech company SPINS analyzed data comparing unit growth of items displaying Smart Shelf Tags to items that did not. By focusing on unit movement and growth compared to respective supplier categories, influences such as price fluctuations and seasonality were minimized, according to a Cornerstone media release from January 2022.

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