As Director of Strategy for a leading Denver marketing agency, I often get asked the question, “Are QR codes dead?” When it came up again this week, I felt it was time to set the record straight.
The answer is a decided “NO!” Far from being dead, QR code usage continues to grow. A recent survey by Pitney Bowes showed that, among younger, heavy smart-phone users, over 40% have scanned a QR code in the past year. Per the chart below, the two biggest applications for QR codes are magazines and direct mail, however posters, point of sale materials and packaging are growing in importance as well.
% of Young Adults Who Have Scanned a QR Code By Media:
- Age: 18-24 – Magazine 39%, Poster 35%, Mail 38%, Packaging 32%, Website 21%, Email 14%, TV 9%
- Age: 25-34 – Magazine 36%, Poster 25%, Mail 36%, Packaging 31%, Website 17%, Email 16%, TV 12%
- Source: Pitney Bowes, “Getting Ahead of the Emerging QR Code Marketing Trend”, Jan. 2013
Overall, 19% of U.S. adults have scanned a QR code compared to 11.5% who have used Twitter. But no one has asked me if Twitter is dead. The difference is relevance. When I receive questions about QR codes, I invariably hear a story about the last code the person scanned and how lame the information was that they received. In fact, there are lots of examples of poor QR code usage out there. For the medium to continue to grow in popularity, it’s critical that when people scan a code, they get interesting information relevant to the moment. QR codes are an excellent experiential marketing medium, but only if you make the effort to create a meaningful experience. Below are some of the primary uses for QR codes that focus on the types of information people hope to get when they pull out their phones to scan.
Read our article: QR Codes and Your Business
Special Offers: The number one reason people take the time to scan a QR code is in hopes of receiving additional discounts or offers. One highly successful QR code in Germany was run by an online toy store. The store actually built a QR code out of Legos and created a contest whereby the winner would get all the Legos used to build the very large code. 49% of the visitors to the site came in via the QR code and overall sales increased dramatically during the contest. Another highly publicized QR code campaign was run in South Korea. An online deal site placed posters in a prominent Seoul location that were shadow-based and could only be seen between 12-1:00 p.m. The codes accessed a downlodable couponing application. During the campaign period, application downloads increased 58% and coupon purchases were up 12% over the prior month.
Product Information: QR codes can be a great way to share additional information about a product either in-store, in print or on the package. A successful Volkswagen magazine ad included a QR code which accessed a dealer and model locator application. Heinz put a QR code on restaurant ketchup packages linking to information about their new environmentally friendly packaging materials and had over 1M people scan and link through to their information.
How To Information: More and more companies are using QR codes to link customers to useful information about how to use their products. Some are putting codes on boxes that link to product specs, assembly instructions and manuals. Others link to recipes and fashion tips. L’Oreal recently ran a QR code campaign in New York taxis during Fashion Week. The code linked to videos for make-up and hair care products with instructional makeover ideas. Downloads of their fashion app increased 80% during the 5-day campaign.
How to Use This Information
Think about how you communicate with customers today. Do you ever have lots of information to share and only a small space to share it in? Do you have ideas on how to engage customers but lack the delivery vehicles? Regardless of what business you are in, there are sure to be way you can use QR codes to give your target customers added experiential marketing value. Whether that comes in the form or discounts, product details, customer testimonials or access to ratings and reviews, making this information available when and where your customers need it makes you a great partner. But beware, linking to less interesting information like your full website or your contest legal information can backfire. Make sure that when people take the time to scan your QR codes, they are rewarded with a fun, valuable experience.
If you are creating amazing experiences for your employees and your customers, please share how you are doing this in the comments area below. If you would like to learn more about how Webolutions can help you design an integrated experiential marketing program that will give you a competitive advantage, give us a call at 303-300-2640.