Sorry, Naysayers: Report Says, “QR Codes Are Here to Stay!”

By | November 15, 2012

What a trip down memory lane! I started tracking and writing about QR codes back in 2010 when I released my first edition of QR Codes: What You Need to Know. This week I finished the first truly major update with all-new data, fresh perspectives, and a host of new examples and case studies.  There is  no paragraph that is untouched.

What are the major changes I’ve seen in the past three years?

1. Smartphone penetration is over 50%.  When I started, smartphone penetration was around 20%. There is a big difference between the mobile marketing environment in a world in which there is 20% smartphone penetration and one in which it is 50%+.

2. One-third of consumers are now mobile-only. When one-third of your audience doesn’t have a landline, you (and your customers) sure better have a mobile strategy. If you don’t, I guess that’s okay. I’m sure your competitors won’t mind.

3. QR codes are on everything.  I used to have to search for QR codes and got excited when I found one. Now, from packaging to movie posters to watermelons, QR codes have become ubiquitous. They have fundamentally become part of the fabric of our culture.

4. Case studies are covering every aspect of the marketing landscape.  When I first started covering this topic, case studies and great examples were not the easiest to come by.  This time, there were so many great examples, with response rates, download volumes, number of scans, and other data provided, that I had to hold back to avoid ballooning the report.

Nay-sayers can “nay, nay” all they want, but QR codes have become as accepted as any other response mechanism in use today.  Sure, 80% of today’s consumer population hasn’t scanned a QR code (yet), but you know what? I haven’t called an 800 number or sent in a business reply card in years. I’d guess that many younger consumers haven’t either.

Click here to see more on the report.

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11 thoughts on “Sorry, Naysayers: Report Says, “QR Codes Are Here to Stay!”

  1. Harvey

    The next big thing is Augmented Reality which is really the evolution of QR. With AR anything can be used as a trigger and the link is instantaneous. Live it.

  2. Chuck Gehman

    Ironically, the report you are hawking is a great example of what QR Codes are best for. That is, giving industry journalists and consultants something to talk and write about!

  3. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    We all need job security. It’s why state construction crews don’t use asphalt made from old tires either. 🙂

    But seriously, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been glad to have QR codes around on more than one occasion. For one, when I was in a new brewery during the Cigar Box Guitar Fest and the QR code took me immediately to its FB page and Twitter account — something I never would have remembered or bothered to do if I hadn’t done it right then thanks to a window cling. Or the time I wanted more specs on a product at Home Depot and looked them up immediately thanks to a QR code on the packaging. There are real, legitimate uses for QR codes, and I for one am glad they are around sometimes. There are plenty of times I’ve responded to something because the QR codes was RIGHT THERE, and if it hadn’t been, I never would have bothered or remembered.

    When we poo-poo QR codes, I think we forget that this type of thing really happens. Even on our own phones.

  4. Chuck

    I have definitely scanned them. And every time I have, I’ve thought to myself, “what a pain this is, look at me standing here like an idiot trying to get this thing in frame”.

    And then I’ve almost always been disappointed with the result that was presented on my phone. I have never scanned one with a tablet, because I don’t randomly whip the tablet out when I’m in a public place. I may be a nerd, but I’m not that big a nerd.

    When shopping, you can often get better information just by typing the name of the product into Google, and/or using redlaser or some other barcode reader– quicker, easier and better. This is nerdy, too, but there is a payoff.

  5. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Exactly! You don’t like QR Codes, but I do. You are annoyed when QR Codes resolve to uninteresting sites, but I’m not. Hence the whole point of having multiple response mechanisms to the same marketing campaign. You are more likely to respond one way and I’m more likely to respond to another.

    We keep having this discussion in this industry about whether QR Codes are good or bad. I don’t think that’s the point. The point is that they work for some audiences, so why not use them? It’s about casting a wide net to bring as many people into the marketing funnel as possible. So why not?

  6. Robert

    Heidi, I am with you, QR Codes are here to stay and the use is expodentially growing daily. We are seeing ten’s of thousand s of scans a hour and it is only growing.. Love them and scan almost everyone I see.

  7. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Granted, a lot of QR codes lead to really crappy website content, but then, so do 800 numbers and BRCs. I don’t hear anyone complaining about the presence of 800 numbers on mailers. Why is there such incense about QR codes?

  8. Joe Manos

    Heidi, great post as usual.

    What I find is that there are a lot of folks who don’t like them because the companies deploying them aren’t working with service providers that know the best practices necessary for success with mobile.

    The companies that live and breathe this daily are seeing great results across all vertical markets and that’s the real message – it is highly effective when leveraged properly!

    Those of us living marketing automation 24 x 7 have seen an incredible evolution and the customer results are driving the increased use cases.

    The QR Code is the response vehicle but success is a direct result of everything that happens once the code has been scanned…

  9. John Foley, Jr.

    Here to stay and grow!

    I think everyone on this thread knows my thoughts on QRCodes! It is a viable response mechanism, and when used correctly can reach teh mobiel Audience!. I do like NFC to reach the mobile audience and they will have their challenges as folks just deliver without a process. And I believe QRCodes will still be in use. QRCodes are going nowhere but up in, exactly like the Mobile Market! Get Mobile Marketing now or be lost! Infographic here –

  10. Rudi

    You knew it had to happen sooner or later: Malicious QR codes pop up on traffic-heavy locations.

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