The Long, Enduring Life of the QR Code

by Net Future Institute on April 22, 2013

By Chuck Martin

In the middle of the lengthy and comprehensive study on emerging digital platforms by Edison Research and Arbitron I came across a stat about QR code scanning.

Based on the findings, it looks like those little black-box codes are hardly going away. The researchers found that almost a quarter (21%) of smartphone owners have at least scanned a QR code at least once.

While not an earth-shattering percentage, when you consider it as part of the more than a billion smartphones, code scanning  has been tried by millions of people.

Publishers have been enamored with the codes for years, placing them on magazine ads and embedding them in stories long before consumers had any knowledge, not to mention any interest, in them.

Some of the scanning no doubt is out of curiosity, since most of those who have scanned a code do not scan daily, based on the study.

It’s likely that some people scanned a QR code early, had a less than positive experience and never came back, which is too bad.

Part of the cause was the early lack of innovation in QR code deployment, where companies or marketers simply routed the consumer to a website by the barcode scan.

Since then, brands and agencies have gotten smarter and much more sophisticated, along with the major QR code provides, most notably Scanbuy and Spyderlynk.

They’ve made QR codes less unsightly, increasing their appeal to both marketers and consumers. Experience also has shown them what it takes to entice a consumer to scan.

The codes also have become more functional, so that rather than sending a person to a website they can draw them into an engagement that leads to commerce.

The study found that smartphones owners will try a large number of things on their phones but that the number of people who do most of those functions on a daily basis is relatively small.

Other than phone calls, texting and net usage, fewer than half of smartphone owners do anything else daily with their phones.

At least they are trying things, which provides long-term hope for QR codes.

   Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent Mobile Keynote Speaker internationally.


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