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QR CRAZE-overuse and overload?

By Heidi Adams

What is a QR code?

QR stands for “quick response”.  Essentially the little black and white squares are a 2D barcode.  These barcodes are able to be scanned via traditional POS scanners or new smart phones and mobile devices. The codes are able to take users to a website, store data or even send an sms message.

The codes themselves are now able to be customized due to scanners having a 30% error correction rate.  This means that your logo can actually be superimposed over the QR code and the code will still function.

Do consumers see the value in QR codes anymore?

QR code placement has grown quickly in the last year-due in part to high amounts of smart phone subscribers.   While shopping this holiday season I’ve been inundated with QR codes.

They are even on items I wouldn’t suspect at first glance.  I think that consumers are starting to lose interest in QR codes without guidance.  What I mean by that is QR codes need to have a perceived value in order to be scanned.

At first, consumers were excited simply by the technology they possessed to be able to scan something and do something new.  Now if there isn’t an attached value to the QR code, it becomes a waste of the consumer’s time.  Here are a few examples to illustrate what I mean.

Bad Examples:

  • A QR code on consumer packaging with no description-next to complete information about the product.
    • Why doesn’t this work?  Well if the data that is already needed is there to purchase a product, why would you scan the code.  Consumers are used to the code not leading to valuable information.
    • How to improve this? How about linking the code to consumer reviews or customer comments about the product. In addition to linking the code- TELL your customers why and what they will get out of scanning the QR.
    • A QR code on a website as part of a logo.
      • Why doesn’t this work?  All this says to me is “we’re trendy”. Take Macy’s for example.  It has been changed since, but a few months ago the middle of their traditional star logo was changed out for a QR code.  The code led to their website.  The logo was on their website.  Can you say, “redundant”?
      • How to improve this? Make the QR do something interesting.  How about linking to a coupon to be used in store that you can keep on your smart phone. You could even have it download an app for you, for shopping on the go.
      • QR code in a TV commercial.
        • Why doesn’t this work? Most commercials are about 30 seconds long. Why waste precious seconds showing a QR code that consumers wont have time to scan. Duncan Hines has a QR code in one of their box mix cake commercials.  It’s so pointless; it’s on the screen for less than 5 seconds.
        • How to improve this? Remove it- don’t waste the time or money.

Good Examples:

*Please note that the next three examples are “print” media.  Often the social media and traditional advertising don’t mesh together in the message.  A QR code is a great way to weave those two mediums together.

  • QR code for plant care tips on nursery seedling packaging.
    • Why does it work? The packaging on some plants at Home Depot this past spring, included a QR code.   The packaging also noted that if you wanted care tips about the plant, to scan the code. There was immediately added value to the product.

    • QR code on business card.
      • Why does it work? This one can go either way, but in the example I have the businessman decided to make his QR code link up to a coupon!  What a great reason to keep the card.  If you do use a QR on your business card make sure that it links up to something different than the information you have typed out.  Also make sure to write what to do with the code or tell the person you’re handing it to.
      • QR code on a DVD display.
        • Why does it work?  This is the best use of a QR code I have seen this holiday season. The QR code was on the display for a newly released DVD.  The display said to scan the code to see a trailer for the movie!  Genius.  If you didn’t see a trailer for it yet or didn’t remember the movie- here is the perfect opportunity to check it out again.  They only way to make that better would be to have free WiFi in the store!

What are some of the best or worst QR code uses you’ve seen?

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