QR Codes Didn’t ‘Die.’ Consumers Never Cared.

In early 2013 most marketing publications were talking about the “death of the QR code,” and how they would certainly be replaced by newer app technologies like Blippar and Touchcode. The reality is that while there has been much excitement around Quick Response (QR) codes and other technologies for marketers, none of them have been proven to be that exciting for consumers.

In 2010 the first QR code scanner and reader applications were released for a variety of smartphone platforms. In 2011 QR codes began to gain prominence in the U.S. marketing arena. As of April 2014, according to ScanLife there are currently 5 million active QR code users worldwide. If all 5 million of those users were in the U.S., that would represent just 1.5% of the U.S. population. QR codes are simple and easy to set up for the merchandiser or marketer, and somewhat easy for consumers, but apparently not easy enough.

If QR scanners had very specific demographic characteristics attached to them, it would make the case to target them for specific product targets, but they do not. According to ScanLife’s study of QR scanners, gender is primarily male, but age, income and education vary greatly.

It does still makes sense to include a QR code on your print advertising or direct mail in some instances. If your product or service is in the retail category, it’s become expected, but we at Gerard Marketing Group would also add that it’s important to ensure that your campaign has a clear call to action and has enticing online content like a video, coupon or other offer when scanners get there. Merely make the QR code itself look more interesting or less like a QR code doesn’t really add value.

 various campaigns attempting to make the QR code itself look more interesting and creative, the bottom line is the function of a QR code is utilitarian. It transitions people from an offline environment to an online one. If there isn’t something worthwhile when they get there, there’s no point in it.
The bottom line is that actually scanning the code seems to be much more perceived work for consumers than marketers anticipated. Research has found that most consumers would rather type in the web address than go through the process of using the QR code. It was an exciting idea, but consumers have the final say as to what works and what doesn’t and they have proven QR codes did not make the cut.