The first time I came across what was being called at the time a snowflake, I was doing work with an international shipping company. UPS was using them to track documents and packages. This way they could find out the status of the letter you sent to Hong Kong or Barcelona. Very efficient way to do it. Faster than standard bar coding.
Today, these codes have taken on a brand new use as a marketing tool. QR, short for Quick Response, can be easily read by our cell phones. Reading them gives you information about a business, can take you to a URL where you can see a movie trailer, get a coupon, or be directed to a retail location. They are so much better than the standard bar code, created in the 1970’s, because they can store much more data. The ability to connect to multimedia digital content is very useful in b2b and b2c applications.
As a marketer, you want to add them to your web site so that the search engines see that your pages have changed, and that you are updating your pages. You can also use them in your print ads, collateral material, TV spots, etc. to provide offers, coupons, product descriptions, or a link to a video. You can also put them on your package as a way to distribute recipes, have consumers enter sweepstakes, or provide detailed nutritional information. There is so much flexibility that you have the ability to change offers by simply linking the QR codes to different landing pages. If you are a retailer, Quick Serve restaurant, travel marketer, you can change your discount by time of day, day of week, etc.
What a great way to extend your conversation with a customer. According to Laura Marriott, CEO of NeoMedia, “Scanning a bar code should provide the consumer with a brand experience that is exclusive, dynamic and interactive.” QR codes provide that capability and facilitate making high tech feel high touch.
According to a recent report from comScore, 14 million people used a QR code in June. They further reported that 60% were males, 53% were 18-34, and 36% have HH incomes in excess of $100K. Lots of marketers target that desirable market segment and can use QR codes to build relationships with them, and sell them products and services. Taco Bell ran a recent campaign using QR codes on selected products and packages which linked to exclusive footage related to Taco Bell’s sponsorship of MTV’s Video Music Awards. What a creative way to build a connection with your audience.
Though print ads and other printed materials are the most common usages, marketers can also put them on the sides of their trucks, on menus, on ticket stubs, on convention name tags. Companies can also use them to gather customer feedback by taking the user to a survey form.
In additional to providing offers or more product information, they can also be used to link to installation information. Wouldn’t that be great for those of us that are mechanically challenged?
QR codes will gain wider distribution because one of the things they do is allow us to stop having to type on our phones, a consumer “want” that needs to be heard. Japanese consumers have been using QR codes for over a decade with great acceptance. Our country will get there shortly.