Technology

What are QR Codes and what can they do for your business?

QRCodeDespite recent research from Forrester that shows only a one percent adoption rate, there’s a rare consensus drawn from marketing executives at the mention of Quick Response (QR codes) that they are the harbinger of things to come for the industry. Originally created for tracking vehicle parts, QR codes were developed in Japan by Denso Wave Inc. (a Toyota subsidiary) and can now be found throughout the country, tagging everything from magazine ads to posters to fast food wrappers. QR codes provide these businesses with an opportunity to drive the use of mobile content and extend their product’s packaging with more information and deeper consumer engagement. If the success of QR codes in Japan is any indication of the potential market in the U.S., and it is, implementing a QR campaign now will give your clients and company a significant competitive advantage.

While a stalled rate of adopters stateside may make you hesitant to implement a QR campaign, now is actually the perfect time for your company to build a formal strategy using this technology – mainly because investing in QR codes is pigeon-holed as a risk for businesses, so vendors have undervalued their services. That said, in order to ensure the success of your campaign, keep in mind that additional considerations need to be taken in order to ensure its success.

The rise in use of QR codes in Japan can be largely attributed to two factors: the benefit to consumers is both unmatched and apparent, and smart phones are purchased with scanning tools already downloaded – thus bypassing the initial “adoption hurdle” for businesses. While increased supply and visibility will encourage smart phone users to download scanning tools, marketers need to focus on exciting consumers by creating meaningful and creative ways for consumers to benefit from this technology. In Japan, users of public transportation can download and read details of a train timetable via QR bar codes, thus providing them with an easier commute. While increase your brand’s awareness with flexible and extended packaging information may be your impetus for using QR codes, remember that concise messaging still resonates best, and that learning more about your company may not be enough to entice consumers. Rather than using QR codes to inundate consumers with jargon, create meaningful tools for your clients and for consumers. This can be achieved by first understanding who is using and likely to use this technology, and then through a  careful consideration of how your business can use QR codes.


Who is using this technology today?

Only a small portion of mobile owners in the U.S. have the technology to use a QR code. These consumers are young adults – Gen Y (18 to 30) and Gen X (31 to 44) with high income. Starbucks has started to use QR codes for payments, and according to the company, 52% of their consumers report seeing QR codes before and 28% have scanned the codes. These figures are irregularly high compared to some other industry sectors, but indicative of how the company was able to mobilize the use of QR codes within an existing consumer base that is most likely to use this technology.

Similar success was seen among other top brands that serve to this demographic. Ford, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Best Buy and Ralph Lauren have all been noted for using QR codes in marketing and advertising initiatives. Overall, in 2010, QR code usage showed an increase of 1200% from July to December. Among social media users, nearly 57% of Facebook and Twitter members report having scanned a mobile bar code at least once in the past year. Therefore, if your company has an active social media presence, QR code campaigns are looking to be the next step in sustaining its brand awareness.


How can you use QR Codes?

My company has printed QR codes on the back of business cards. This gives my clients a way to quickly learn more about the company, while my contact information is being stored on their cell phone. As an innovative firm, we’ve worked with our clients use QR codes on print advertisements such as brochures, magazine and newspaper ads and posters. We are also looking to add QR codes to a campaign for a museum in order to create an interactive tour for those interested in visiting. Recently, we’ve also suggested a client use QR codes to attract tourists to visit a small town to participate in a scavenger hunt. When visiting with the Pentagon Memorial Fund they were considering putting QR codes on each memorial unit so visitors could learn more about each victim of the 9/11 attacks. Undoubtedly, the possibilities of attaching hyperlinks to your marketing materials will make this technology a great tool. For now, we just have to help consumers find their way toward adoption.

Have you used QR codes in any interesting ways for business? Let us know in the comments.


Category: Technology

Tags:  , ,

Avatar About the Author: Nick Damoulakis

Nick Damoulakis is the co-founder of Orases Consulting Corporation, a Maryland-based interactive firm that focuses on the synergy between strategic marketing and i…

Learn More

  1. We’re planning to try QR codes at a large trade show in June. Hoping to make our message stand out.

    • We used them at a conference this week and it was a great ice breaker. Let me know how it goes at your trade show.

  2. We’re planning to try QR codes at a large trade show in June. Hoping to make our message stand out.

    • We used them at a conference this week and it was a great ice breaker. Let me know how it goes at your trade show.

  3. Mark Kolier

    March 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Nice post Nick. While QR codes have been gaining in adoption and usage even they’ve been around since 1994 starting in Japan. So in fact it’s a pretty old technology. There are ways to use them where the offer can be changed to increase the life of the QR code as opposed to having it link to a static URL.

    Users should keep in mind that there are some best practices when it comes to geting the best resulfts out of using QR codes – less is more when it comes to the data scans as well as how much clearance should be used when rendering for printing. Also when it comes to QR codes ideal size matters!

  4. Mark Kolier

    March 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Nice post Nick. While QR codes have been gaining in adoption and usage even they’ve been around since 1994 starting in Japan. So in fact it’s a pretty old technology. There are ways to use them where the offer can be changed to increase the life of the QR code as opposed to having it link to a static URL.

    Users should keep in mind that there are some best practices when it comes to geting the best resulfts out of using QR codes – less is more when it comes to the data scans as well as how much clearance should be used when rendering for printing. Also when it comes to QR codes ideal size matters!

  5. Mikey

    March 17, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Check out http://www.bwscan.com for PayPal payments qr code. I think they provide free analytics too.

  6. Mikey

    March 17, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Check out http://www.bwscan.com for PayPal payments qr code. I think they provide free analytics too.

  7. Jay

    March 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Are you aware that the QR Code posted with this article is an advertisement of the writers business?

    • Vistage

      March 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      Jay, and Nick for that matter, I think it is FANTASTIC that the QR code you inserted into the post led to a marketing message for your company. Doesn’t that just perfectly exemplify the point of what QR codes are supposed to do? It’s a kind of gorilla target..

      For those that haven’t scanned it, if you take a picture of it using the Google App on an iPhone you get a message that says

      “You have just scanned a QR Code. Learn more about how Orases can help your business use QR codes at http://www.orases.com” (I’ll stop the add there Nick)…

      Imagine running into a QR code in a random location, lets say on a sticker stuck to the back of the seat at a business conference. And the QR code said that message. Wouldn’t that be a powerful way to try and get your business?

      Great post Nick.

      ~Andy Ramirez

  8. Jay

    March 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Are you aware that the QR Code posted with this article is an advertisement of the writers business?

    • Vistage

      March 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      Jay, and Nick for that matter, I think it is FANTASTIC that the QR code you inserted into the post led to a marketing message for your company. Doesn’t that just perfectly exemplify the point of what QR codes are supposed to do? It’s a kind of gorilla target..

      For those that haven’t scanned it, if you take a picture of it using the Google App on an iPhone you get a message that says

      “You have just scanned a QR Code. Learn more about how Orases can help your business use QR codes at http://www.orases.com” (I’ll stop the add there Nick)…

      Imagine running into a QR code in a random location, lets say on a sticker stuck to the back of the seat at a business conference. And the QR code said that message. Wouldn’t that be a powerful way to try and get your business?

      Great post Nick.

      ~Andy Ramirez

  9. Emoore

    April 3, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Nick,
    Nice to see you here. We’ve done some great things with QR for clients in a catalogue and on playground equipment. I definitely think they’re here to stay!

    Looking forward to talking soon.
    Ellen

  10. Emoore

    April 3, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Nick,
    Nice to see you here. We’ve done some great things with QR for clients in a catalogue and on playground equipment. I definitely think they’re here to stay!

    Looking forward to talking soon.
    Ellen

  11. Ray Kelly

    May 14, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Is Starbucks using a QR code for payments or are they using a “stacked linear barcode PDF417…”

  12. I think it’s an issue of whether or not its relevant. I feel the novelty of QR codes has rubbed off on many who used to just scan them for the sake of scanning it; and marketers have to be ever more cautious on how they’re being used

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *