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New App OpenLabel Aims to Replace Product Labels

Image credit: OpenLabel

Silicon Valley startup OpenLabel has just launched a free iPhone app and website that lets consumers and non-profit partners attach information and product ratings directly onto any barcoded product.

After closing half a million dollar seed investment from investors at Google, Amazon, and MicroVentures, OpenLabel released its free mobile app and web platform that helps smart shoppers make healthier, more responsible, and more informed decisions.

The app uses a crowd-powered concept similar to Yelp, Twitter and Reddit, and aims to eventually replace the traditional, product label with more relevant, dynamic information. The app provides data on company and product ratings as well as analysis from a variety of sources.

Users simply scan the barcode of any product in the world, and contribute their own information and recommendations on issues such as health and safety, social justice, environmental impact, politics, and animal welfare. Each “label” can be shared and rated by the community, and consumers can follow the sources they trust to see updates in their personal feed.

So far, the startup has indexed over 20 million products, and their private beta users have contributed over 100,000 labels ranging from personal recommendations to data from dozens of non-profit partners such as Fairtrade, Healthy Child, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Unicef, and the Environmental Working Group.

“The products that we buy - and the trillions of dollars we spend on them - have a profound affect on the health and safety of our families, our society, and the planet.” Said CEO Scott Kennedy. “Consumers want and need to know more than what is printed on the package”.

OpenLabel contends that their app will benefit brands as well as consumers. Label reviews will help companies gain deeper insights into what people like and dislike about their products. Additionally, it will allow them to engage more directly with consumers by providing them with relevant information and offers when they are most receptive: at the moment they request information about the product, and are making in-store decisions. According to Deloitte, 70% of shoppers use their mobile phone while in retail stores, and 80% “want mobile-optimized product information while shopping”.

Apps like OpenLabel stem from an overwhelming call from consumers for more transparent labeling. However, equipping shoppers with immediate product reviews via barcode is not a new concept. How Good reviews the impact products make on the entire food system, and then crunches the data down to simple labels added directly to grocery store shelves. GoodGuides uses a similar model to examine brand “eco-labels”, like Organic, to track products’ environmental, social and economic footprint, available to consumers with a scan of the barcode.


Caitlin Kauffman is Sustainable Brands' acting Editorial Assistant. She recieved her Bachelor's in International Relations and Peace and Conflict Studies from CU Boulder. She has written for several publications including Sierra Magazine and O.A.R.S. As a women's health educator she… [Read more about Caitlin Kauffman]


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