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QR Codes Function Mostly on Consumer Curiosity

The argument about QR code effectiveness and why consumers do or don’t make use of them actually has an unexpected twist. Marketers who currently use QR codes will find the reasons mystifying.

According to a report from Chadwick Martin Bailey entitled, “9 Things To Know About Consumer Behavior and QR Codes” (January 4, 2012) 46% of consumers scan QR codes out of curiosity of where they will be taken and what they will be offered. 41% scan the codes to get more information and only 18% scan codes to take advantage of a discount or a free gift. 16% scan to get exclusive content and 6% to buy something (3% is listed as “other” in the survey). Percentages are also based on a crossover of respondents choosing two categories of why they scan codes.

So what does this mean for QR code marketers?

What’s more, in the year and a half since this survey, have consumers switched their reasons for scanning QR codes? Has scanning increased or receded?

A year and a half in internet time is an eon in human time, so consumer habits, along with web technology has changed immensely. Article after article has reported increased use of QR codes from advertising to consumer based companies. So, has curiosity been replaced by the knowledge of what scanning a QR code has to offer? The confident answer is “yes!” It is, however, not due to the amount of time QR codes have been appearing on posters, ads and products.

The change has come because savvy marketers are learning how to use QR codes properly and engage consumers desires and not just their curiosity. Consumers, in turn, are more willing to scan codes because they know they will be rewarded to do so.

  • Restaurants with take out menus have learned that regular customers like downloading a menu via a QR code and that the menu can be updated without having to print new menus. Naturally, the menu is updated via digital means and those who have downloaded a menu can be notified of any changes.
  • Stores can come to the customer with QR code scanning. A successful example is the Home Plus grocery stores in South Korea (formerly known as TESCO) that allows consumers to scan their shopping list while waiting for the subway home (or going to work) and having their groceries delivered to their home at their convenience. Home plus is now the number one online grocery store in Korea. Through the campaign 10,287 consumers visited the online Home plus store using their smart phone. Online membership increased by 76% and online revenue by 130%.

  • Manufacturers are finding they can increase their sales and visibility by incorporating QR codes into existing print with web and video landing. Reported results are website traffic doubling inside of two months and a double digit increase in sales.
  • Grocery and drug store suppliers are finding that having QR codes for consumers to scan, which allows extra information on products increase sales and promote brand loyalty.

There are many examples (see other articles on of great QR codes usages, but there are certain key elements marketers must follow in conjunction with QR codes:

Scanning from a mobile phone or tablet should go to a site that has responsive design (sets to the device on which it is being viewed).

  • Give the viewer something special for the action of scanning the code, i.e., discount, coupons, recipes, tips and tricks, etc.
  • Make sure the code has a clear call to action associated with it. The curiosity factor is what has died with QR codes.
  • QR codes need to be effectively placed in easy to scan spots. Moving vehicles, far away billboards, tiny codes and QR code tattoos on waking people are impossible to scan.

What will the next year and a half bring for QR codes? That’s at least an eon away. The next six months should bring surprises to supporters and nay-sayers of the little puzzle-like squares.

Top image ©GL Stock Images

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