QR Codes are nothing new. The things have been around since 1994, but in the last year they seem to have exploded with the proliferation of smartphones with cameras. These days you can’t go a day without seeing one it seems like, but the cold hard fact is six out of ten Americans don’t know what they are, and the number is about the same for people who will actually scan them. None the less marketers and advertisers continue to develop and roll out QR codes right and left. In the graphic below there were three things that reinforced my opinion about QR codes, their use, and their possible future.
- 6 out of 10 don’t know what they are.
- Almost 60% are found in retail locations and or magazines
- 87% of the people who do scan them expect a coupon when the associated site launches.
if you put this together it’s not what I would call a winning formula. It basically means that you are expecting 29% of your target audience to take a phone out while shopping, pick up an item, launch the QR reader on their phone, point it at the code, then save a digital coupon. You are also expecting the cashier to know what to do with the coupon when it is presented. The same thing is true with people seeing these in a magazine. You are expecting the reader to stop reading, get their phone, fire up the software, scan the code, and execute on what ever your QR code serves up. That is provided your audience isn’t one of the six out of ten that have no clue about what your QR code is.
Right now there are to many steps, and too much confusion about what QR codes are and how to effectively use them. This is why I keep thinking that they are short lived and will be eclipsed by better technology in the near future. Smartphone adoption has helped generate buzz about them, and I know QR codes are here to stay. I’m just not all that convinced they are going to give you any ROI that is worth your time.
The infographic below is from SystemID. if you scan the QR code at the bottom of the image you will be taken to their mobile site where there is even more info on QR codes and what you can do with them.