Survey Says: QR Code Use Falling . . . NOT!

By | August 9, 2013

I keep hearing a common refrain: QR Codes are going away. Consumers aren’t using them. They are out-dated. They are being replaced by more sophisticated technology. Blah, blah, blabbidy blah, blah, blah.

The fact is, the data just don’t support those statements. ScanLife just released its Q2 2013 barcode trend report and once again — just as in all of its previous trend reports — QR Code scans are going up.

Consider these numbers:

ScanLife Historical Line

  • Q2 2013 saw 4 million new QR Code scanners worldwide
  • Users scan QR Codes 3x per month — up 22% from the previous quarter.
  • Scanning from tablets has increased by a whopping 1300% from one year ago.

The number of people scanning QR Codes is up. The frequency of scanning is up. Scanning is spreading across mobile devices.

Clearly, the use of QR Codes as a response mechanism for marketing campaigns is not going away.

So where is this idea that QR Codes are going the way of the Model T coming from? I can’t say for sure, but my belief is that it’s coming from the industry chatter about the poor use of these codes combined with a heavy dose of personal disdain (for one reason or another) and supported with data that shows the percentage of smartphone owners who have scanned these codes ranging from 10-30%. Naysayers love to quote the low percentage of smartphone owners who scan these codes.

But the fact is, I would imagine that the percentage of people who call the 800 number from a direct mail piece is really low too. (I can’t remember the last time I called an 800 number that wasn’t customer service.) But I don’t hear anyone suggesting we should putting 800 numbers on direct mail pieces. QR Code use is growing. Frequency is increasing. Use across devices is broadening. Don’t take my word for it —listen to the data.


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9 thoughts on “Survey Says: QR Code Use Falling . . . NOT!

  1. John Foley, Jr

    Hi Heidi! Great stuff as always. I have even heard from the mouths of many printers – “QRCodes are dead”. Far from it, and QRCode use will continue to grow along with Augmented Reality, Near Field Communication (NFC) and of course the “Next thing”. Here is an infographic that supports your post – . The QRCode is another way to reach the fastest growing channel (Mobile). How about this -why would you not incorporate them? – John

  2. Joe Manos

    Great posts Heidi and John.

    I believe it has to do with comfort level and actually working with customers. Companies that are leveraging best practice methodologies for effective use of QR Codes are enjoying great results. Those that aren’t trained and just throw them out there – well you know the results.

    They have to be used as part of an overall, ongoing marketing strategy that offers value with each touch to the recipient. The effective and successful use cases continue to grow with no slow down in sight.

    As John stated, why wouldn’t you leverage mobile when 22% of us do everything on our SmartPhones?

  3. Mark Stephenson

    I’m a little suspicious of the data which comes from a company who provide barcode scanning software. The report is based on figures collected from users of ScanLife software only. That does not include phone and tablet users who have never scanned a barcode never mind downloaded any scanning software.
    Do you have any less subjective data?

  4. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Mark, it’s my understanding that Scanbuy processes scans of third-party QR Codes as well. Not just their own. It’s also my understanding that Scanbuy, at least from their own data, processes 20% of all scans globally, so that’s a pretty good sample. I might be wrong about the third-party scans, but I’m pretty sure that’s the case from when they used to put the methodology at the bottom of their reports.

  5. Mark Stephenson

    Thanks Heidi,
    I really want the QR code to be popular but without solid data I’m reluctant to say it’s a valid consideration for mass cross media applications.
    It’s got some great applications for niche situations and tech users but there has to be a better way.

  6. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    What is the threshold for QR Codes being popular enough? With Coke, Taco Bell, Best Buy, Lowes, and so many of the other major brands using QR Codes as a matter of course, that’s a pretty strong indication that they’ve moved beyond the tech crowd. Last data I saw on QR Codes in magazine pages, they were in 8% of them (Adweek December 2012). I see them everywhere, and when they are relevant to me, I scan them. Most aren’t relevant, but then, most URLs aren’t relevant either. Neither are most social media icons, 800 numbers, and physical addresses. So what makes QR Codes different? What is the threshold that you would use for them to be popular enough?

  7. @FrankHudetz

    Mark…can’t blame you for being a skeptic regarding Scanbuy’s numbers, but you might take some comfort to know China is realizing explosive growth themselves with QR codes per this report from Kliener Perkins who is in no way connected to Scanbuy.

    Good blog post Heidi.
    What makes QR Codes different from all the other options you mentioned is that they have become the universal remote control button fir the 21st century.
    Just like cable companies would like to embed every function they can into your TV remote, QR codes can launch a #800, social media icon, text message, calendar reminders, maps, apps and URL’s while the reverse is not easily accomplished by any other method. I don’t see QR codes going away but I do see them complementing the use of other NFC technologies in a very cost effective way.

  8. QR code

    I think that the time for QR codes is booming now, no it won’t be here forever, but it is a great bridge to new tools like augmented reality and snap tags and beside that it’s a cheap solution that work.

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