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Mobile Matters

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How QR Codes Are Rewriting the Rules of Consumer Engagement

by: | February 29, 2012

Is your small business using QR codes? If the answer is “No,” then what you are waiting for? QR codes (matrix-based “quick response” barcodes optimized for scanning via smartphone) are becoming ubiquitous across packaged goods, print advertisements, business cards, and websites, and for good reason: They’re cheap to create, easy to implement, and offer marketers a golden opportunity to interact with consumers interested in learning more about a product or brand, transporting them to mobile websites containing everything from special offers to how-to videos.

Your company may still be on the fence about the QR codes opportunity, but consumers have already made up their minds: They like ‘em. A lot.

In fact, QR scans increased 300 percent in 2011 compared to 2010 totals and 1000 percent over 2009, according to mobile barcode solutions provider Scanbuy’s latest ScanLife Mobile Barcode Trend Report. Even more impressive, smartphone users scanned more QR codes in the fourth quarter of 2011 than in all of 2010 and 2009 combined. Scanbuy adds that QR code scanning activities weren’t limited to the holiday shopping season—two of the biggest scan days fell after Christmas Day, and many of the individuals scanning codes were first-time users.

(The single largest scanning day of 2011 was Black Friday, with scanning activity peaking at the beginning and end of the sale day, possibly indicating that consumers are accessing QR codes to target the best possible deals and make more informed purchase decisions.)

So, who are all these people scanning QR codes, anyway? Sixty-three percent are men, Scanbuy reports—28 percent fall between the ages of 25 and 34, 22 percent are between the ages of 35 and 44, and another 22 percent are in the 18-to-24 demographic. Exactly half own smartphones running Google’s Android mobile operating system, followed by Apple iPhone owners at 39 percent; BlackBerry owners make up a mere 6 percent, illustrating the brand’s steep decline within the consumer consciousness.

Still not convinced? There’s a good chance your competitors are already onboard.

A Scanbuy survey of more than 100 independent marketers reveals 50 percent of marketers are currently using 2-D barcodes, with 86 percent of respondents planning to do so in the near future. Companies implementing QR codes are most commonly rolling them out on product packaging, followed by newspapers and magazines, the Web, outdoor advertising and direct mail marketing. As for the verticals mounting QR campaigns, the consumer packaged goods segment is the frontrunner, trailed by retail, entertainment, editorial, and wireless.

But QR codes aren’t only about marketing.

They also enable customers to share their opinions and feedback with retailers and brands, offering companies unprecedented access into the consumer psyche. Consumer analytics firm South Office LLC recently introduced Feedback Revolution QR, a free service that provides custom QR codes, enabling businesses to conduct customer surveys—small businesses can now collect actionable customer data in real time, making necessary changes and improvements with far greater speed and efficiency. After all, they don’t call them “quick response codes” for nothing.Marketing Zeus

Posted in: B2C, Direct Response, E-Commerce, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Development, Mobile Matters, Usability

About the Writer:

Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of the FierceMobileContent and FierceDeveloper e-newsletters as well as a regular contributor to Entrepreneur magazine and the website All Music Guide. Additional credits include efforts for publications including Rolling Stone, Wax Poetics and No Depression, along with liner notes for a number of album releases. He lives in Chicago.

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