QR codes is short for “Quick Response Codes”, which were created by Denso-Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, more than a decade ago. If you are not familiar with QR codes yet they are similar to barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products. The main difference between QR codes and barcodes is the amount of information that they can hold.
For marketers, both QR codes and barcodes are useful ways to engage consumers with a product/service. They can be used for product introduction with in-depth information, consumer promotions like coupons, and unique marketing communications to enhance the shopping experience.
According to trend research by MGH in February 2011, 98% of smartphone users have already actively used QR codes in their daily life. Although currently the adoption of QR codes usage is uneven, given the fact that the demographics of smartphone users represents a group of highly educated and affluent consumers; the awareness of QR code is growing, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes common in most demographics.
Many big companies are already on the move: McDonalds uses QR codes to allow consumers to find out nutrition information on their food. United Airlines uses QR codes as digital boarding passes. Google not only uses it in Google Place, but also powers its app center to generate free QR codes. Ebay adds QR codes to its RedLaser’s barcodes app for iPhone users. These firms already saw that the potential of QR codes to connect people with each other and to multimedia digital content is very useful for businesses and consumers alike.
The potential of QR codes is limitless. It is exciting to see how they are capable of bring people together with technology and extending them to enhance the customer experience. But at the same time, while the world is excited about QR codes, FiG wants to remind you that no matter how powerful QR codes are, they are just a tool for marketers. The real challenge doesn’t lie in the codes, but lie in the way you use it to provide value-added experience. Following are several tips for marketers before you add them to your campaign:
- Remember that the population of QR codes users is still limited. Every time you place a QR code also put the website link for people who don’t have a code reader on their phones.
- Currently the most frequent code readers are on smartphones. It means that you need to consider cell phone reception coverage when putting your QR codes around.
- You can’t manage it if you can’t measure it. To ensure the success of QR codes, provide a trackable URL to measure it frequently, and reformulate it if you need to.