QR Codes Making a Comeback

Recently I witnessed how QR codes are finding their niche among market segments we should take note of. I was visiting with someone who taught second grade and she was setting up QR codes for her student’s assignments and reports. What fascinated me is that her class of second graders all use tablets, i pads or e-readers. Being that the technology is beyond their cognitive ability, it is easier for them to use a QR code than enter a complex URL. This was curious. If a new generation is being conditioned to use QR codes, could the technology make a come back in the US?  What other segments find scanning a QR code more convenient that simply doing an internet search?

QR Code Basics

It seemed like QR codes were the next big thing many years ago and, just as quickly as they came about, the technology had gone by the wayside in the U.S

Since marketers have seemingly abandoned the technology, the question “what are QR codes” needs to be addressed. qr_cisse_2-blog-half[1]Similar to the UPC codes we have become familiar with on packaged goods, QR codes are scanned using an array of black and white squares that store URL information. When scanned using a QR code reader or a QR code app on a smart phone, the linked URL is immediately accessed.

Anyone can create a QR code using a QR code generator, which you can find with a simple internet search. Because internet security should be top-of-mind, get a referral to a reliable QR code generator.

The Great QR Code Rush

When the technology first became available, marketers rushed to use them. They were available on products, on bus signs and anywhere one could focus a smart phone.  The steps for downloading the app, focusing the camera and many other tasks to use the app became a hassle and it seemed easier to just enter a URL or, better yet, search the brand name to get quick access.

As consumers abandoned the technology, many marketers found that the real estate the QR code took up on an ad or point-of-sale display was better used with a direct message. Among techies it was assumed that companies using a QR code were behind the times or out of touch. The boxy codes seemed to disappear as fast as they came about

 Knowledge Links Prevailed

Since there are so many steps to connecting to a URL using a QR Code, consumers are motivated to use them only when you make their effort worthwhile.

Educational experiences such as museums, aquariums, and zoos use QR Codes effectively as visitors can link to a site with specific information about the exhibit.

Non-profit organizations use the codes to link donors to a detailed story to establish their authenticity and build an emotional connection.

Since anyone can set up a QR Code, links to books and videos can be provided to students that are in their formative years, have a learning disability or a language barrier.

Promotional QR Codes and the Immediate Pay Off

QR Codes are great sales promotional tools. If you make QR code search effort worth it with a free music download, a high-value coupon or a discount code, it involves consumers with your brand and the extra effort engages them longer.

Offer a immediate reward for QR Code searchers

Offer a immediate reward for QR Code searchers

For example a concert with a QR Code projection offered attendees a free music download. This is a perfect use of the technology, as it is convenient in the moment, when fans are engaged. A simple scan downloads free music to engage fans, long after the concert performance.

Establishing a specific promotional site page and linking with a QR code provides the opportunity to develop an exclusive offer to a unique sub-set of customers. Your link must be mobile friendly.

QR Codes and the Asian Market

Retailers in international destination cities are once again featuring QR Codes to display the technology the Asian visitor market is accustomed to using

Retailers in international destination cities are once again featuring QR Codes to display the technology the Asian visitor market is accustomed to using

An estimated 70% of China’s Internet users only use mobile devices to access the Internet. When you consider that many URL codes are in English, or contain a complicated mix of Chinese characters, QR codes are the easiest way to access the internet among this audience.

The Asian market is bringing back the QR Code technology. Retailers in international destination cities, such as London, Los Angeles and New York are once again featuring QR Codes to display the technology the Asian visitor market is accustomed to using.

WeChat is the most popular mobile text and voice messaging service used in China. Their QR code reader has become the most popular device for reading, sharing and accessing URL’s among this rapidly growing consumer market.

SnapChat Repurposes the QR Code

Snapchat exists without a website or a way to link people together like facebook or twitter. To overcome this obstacle, and become competitive, they created the Yellow Ghost to inset your picture and link into. Snapchat-QR-Ghost-Code[1] This feature is essentially a QR Code that allows people to link together on SnapChat. Use the yellow ghost on your blog, twitter profile picture or product to instantly connect your tribe, fans or audience to give them an opportunity to follow you on SnapChat.

The bottom line, The QR Code is making a comeback. The technology once scoffed at by techies is finding its place among a wide-array of diverse market segments.

As you develop your sales promotional plan consider ‘what is a QR Code’ …does it provide faster access than other link sources, does it serve the audience needs better, is it a way to increase your fans on Snapchat? Think of the technology in relation to your overall audience and how they may use it to link to information or an offer that provides an immediate benefit.

 

 

Kevin Danaher

Kevin’s career spans over 30 years where he worked for New York Sales Promotion and Advertising agencies such as Ventura Associates, and BBDO developing promotional campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands including VISA, General Electric, Kraft/General Foods, Fidelity Investments, and Chrysler. Read More