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The untapped potential of QR codes

These codes are not used by most consumers

  • Key4Communications

QR codes are not consolidating as a marketing tool: there have been around since the 90's and experts say they should become a key promotional and sales tool, thanks to the expansion of smartphones, but the truth is that consumers barely use them.

QR (quick response) codes are a type of bar code with a design composed of black dots arranged along a square. They started being applied in automobile spare parts, but their use spread, given the reading speed and more storage capacity compared to traditional bar codes.

Using a smartphone with camera, you can read these signs printed in magazines, advertisements, posters and access all kinds of online information -for example, the company’s website or even product details within the online store, for example. Google has used them for companies participating in Google Favourite Places: restaurants, shops and bars could print stickers or ads with their own code. This code led to the business page in Google Places, which includes photos, reviews and comments. QR codes have also been used in stores, next to the products and leading users for example to a demo video of each product.

However, this resource has not fully developed, despite its potential. According to a study by marketing firm Russell Herder, 52% of US surveyed users claim that QR codes generate a valuable information exchange between brands and consumers only sometimes. Furthermore, although 72% of respondents have seen these codes, only 15% have used them, and 30% didn’t even know what they were. Moreover, among those who had used QR codes, only 54% reported that they would use them again in the future.

Some useful tips

QR codes have many possibilities, but as Russell Herder explains in its study, companies must must take into account the particularities of this tool:

-Its users are mostly in the age group between 18 and 34.
-Companies need to know where to put them to facilitate and enhance their use: for example, at the store, next to the product, and also in magazines and on packaging.
-Sellers must offer added value, something more than just the link to the store or the web: a video or relevant information about the product, for example.
-Variations in design can be introduced: they don’t need to be all black and white.

(The QR code that illustrates this article leads to our Twitter profile and has been developed thanks to Qrstuff.)

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