Quick response, a.k.a. QR codes – fad or trend?
QR codes are rectangular codes that enable smartphone equipped consumers with the proper scanning applications to instantly receive information that has been encoded/decoded. They are slowly evolving into the mainstream and being utilized primarily by marketers seeking to instantly engage with their consumers – immediate link to a mobile site, customized content, video, etc. In addition to outbound messaging, QR codes facilitate tracking measurement.
I am real bullish about QR codes. Why? They are an excellent hybrid marketing tool – intercept marketing (a proven classic marketing strategy) combined with a Web 2.0 collaborative tool that facilitates engagement. Thanks to a project I am currently working on, I have been researching the current utilization of QR codes. When I discuss their unlimited potential, I have been challenged by my peers who believe they are a passing fad. Consequently, I would like to document why I think QR codes will become an integral part of marketing moving forward, a great touch point for both B2C or B2B marketers to engage and get closer to their customers. Rationale:
1. We are in the midst of a learning curve as it relates to QR codes. I apologize for being candid. I deem that the early adapters have misfired in their execution. One major example; too many companies have placed codes without any support copy (call to action) like scan here to get your free widget. As we become more familiar and marketers become more knowledgeable, everyone will know what to do when they spot the funny little rectangular codes.
2. Nielsen projects that half of the mobile phone user population will own a smartphone by the end of the year. More importantly, early smartphone users experienced some confusion about what scanners to download based on their equipment. A majority of the new models already come with a scanner app built in.
3. Google recently reported that 79 percent of smartphone owners use their phones while shopping (product and pricing information) with 90 percent resulting in a purchase or store visitation. In response, Retailers are placing QR codes in their stores to facilitate the shopping experience and provide a platform for engagement.
As most of my readership knows, I am a specialist in the foodservice channel. Restaurant operators utilizing QR codes as a promotional tactic will be a given – couponing, free samples, sweepstakes, etc. I get excited about other future applications – videos that communicate the source of the operator’s food or beverage (e.g., sustainable fish, fair trade coffee, etc.), recommended wine or beer pairings, exhibition cooking of a special dish, etc.
The utilization of QR codes will vary by industry. Once marketers work out the kinks and consumers/buyers become familiar with what they are, QR codes will be a great hybrid marketing tool. 2012 will be the year of the QR code.
Are you ready to scan with me?