QR Codes: Quasi-Retired or Quality Retailing?

QR Codes: Quasi-Retired or Quality Retailing?

I never jumped on the QR code bandwagon. These pixelated black and white boxes don’t pique my interest. They give me a headache and make me wonder, “This is your marketing campaign? Why do I have to unlock a mystery to learn about your product or service?” Buying should be much easier. Or at least charming.

I prefer my marketing delivered to me via high-gloss, 100# paper stock that assaults my senses in the most enchanting way. I get why QR campaigns are popular among politically-correct, environmentally sensitive, Gluten-free progressive marketers…this advertising approach prevents tree slaughter and refuse accrual. But, please…that’s not how you’ll get my business.

This begs the question: What role do QR codes have in marketing? Am I an obsolete consumer target for today’s retailers? Yes, and no.

First, if you are like me and haven’t taken part in this black and white marketing event – let me explain. “QR” stands for “Quick Response”. The idea is that you can quickly view more information about product or service with just a snap of your phone.

Easy, right? Nope. I tried this once, and guess what? You get nada, zip, zilch unless you’ve already installed a QR reader app on your smartphone. Also, you have a live internet connection when you read the code, otherwise you are dead in the water. Let’s assume you’ve got the reader app installed and now you’re at a busy taxi stand. You see a QR code on the side of a taxi and want to learn more. You snap a picture of the code, and wait. After a moment, a webpage loads, providing the same exact information you could have downloaded from the vendor’s website.

I realize this is a paltry explanation. So let’s look at why the QR marketing platform exists and whether it’s effective.

QR codes originated out of Japan in the mid-90’s to track automobiles. About 15 years later, these codes made their debut in the US. Savvy mobile marketers jumped on this new marketing channel. looking for revolutionary ways to drive consumers to their websites.

Today, QR generation continues to grow and appears to be an effective marketing channel with certain audiences, mainly iPhone users between the ages of 25-34*. The problem is that only 15% of smart device users know how to scan QR codes. Another problem is that many companies don’t know how to optimize this marketing tool. For example, links lead to web pages that aren’t optimized for mobile devices.

In the end, I deem it odd, that we need an app…to read a code…to view a webpage. Another example of our smart technology overthinking itself.

I’m not sold. Show me a vibrant, gaudy, perfumed ad in Vanity Fair, and I’ll buy your product like it’s candy.


Sources: 1 ComScore 2 Visualead

Tiffanny Brooks

Senior Director // tiffanny@zumcom.com