Music, coupons, tickets…. there’s more to QR codes than meets the eye

QR codes are becoming increasingly prominent in our everyday lives. Not only to be found on newspaper pages, they are popping up on bus stops, shop windows and even in hospitals. QR (‘Quick Response’) codes are 2D barcodes that can be scanned by the camera of a smart phone so that the user can receive information, which could take them to anything from a webpage to an app.

But how responsive has the public been to their increase as a mobile marketing tool?

The uptake of QR codes has increased in recent years, with more marketers spending large budgets on this mobile marketing platform, providing an effective way to integrate offline and online marketing activity.  For example, Kick Energy recently announced they are rolling out a £1m on-pack QR promotion for the upcoming Batman movie.

But the uptake of QR codes by consumers is not growing at the speeds originally expected. In tech-savvy Japan and South Korea these codes are big business, but in the UK it is a different story, with only 19% of UK consumers having scanned a QR code. It appears consumer reception has been somewhat lukewarm.

The main hindrance to QR codes’ success lies in the uptake of smart phones, since they are only accessible to owners of more technologically-advanced phones.  However, as the price of smart phones continues to drop, their uptake is expected to grow, widening the QR code market. 

So what’s all the fuss about? And what do these barcodes really offer the consumer?

Global brands have been quick to embrace QR codes as a speedy and easy route to provide content to consumers, saving time for those on the go. Just take a look at the following innovative campaigns and uses:

As with most social media and marketing trends, the music business has been quick to get involved in the opportunities QR codes provide and QR codes are fast becoming the new mix tapes. You can now create mix tapes through Spotify and send your friends a greeting card with a unique QR code, which they can instantly scan and play on their smart phone.

QR codes definitely have a lot of potential to develop further and become important in future campaigns. They appear to have fairly limitless uses as they continue to be created for increasingly innovative purposes. With three very different brands already successfully utilising the QR code opportunities – and providing a refreshing look at how they will continue to move away from just merely being a way to access a webpage for more content – I am excited to see their uptake grow!

Danielle Barrett

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