QR Codes (short for Quick Response Codes) may have the rebrand story of the year. Over the years there are several factors that have contributed to the matrix barcode’s engagement including the increase in smartphone penetration, access to high-speed mobile internet and the camera scanning update that eliminated the mandatory app download. However, within the last 2 years, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a massive success for touchless powered technologies across the globe. There is an increase in demand for safe ways to keep consumers engaged and the QR Code market received a new lease on life after years of having its effectiveness questioned by businesses, marketers, and consumers alike. Currently, in the wake of the pandemic, social distancing requirements and health and safety precautions forced all kinds of companies to get creative to reach their customers. QR codes are centrally located in most businesses and are the main method for transactions but as the world begins to open up and safety concerns decrease, will we continue to prioritize the technology?
“It wasn’t that long ago that QR Codes were laughably dinosaur technology. Now, QR Code companies are reaping the rewards, as money has been pouring into firms in the food service space over the past year.” (1)
The Mockery of Marketing
In the late 1990s and into the 2000s, marketers latched onto QR codes as a way to easily send people to landing pages and specific web content. While the technology was initially deemed revolutionary, at that time QR codes required users to download an app to scan the code and access the content. The mandatory app installation was a roadblock for mobile users until Apple. integrated the QR reader into the iPhone’s camera In 2017 with the iOS 11 update. Allowing QR Codes to be scanned directly through the camera app was game-changing and garnered a wave of hype however, it wasn’t enough to increase marketers interest or consumers engagement. Data from QR manager Scanova showed a modest 7% Increase from 2018 to 2019 in the number of US households that had used a QR code in that past year (2). This underwhelming outcome was yet another time the hype around QR Codes resulted in disappointment. That said it leaves many people, myself included, to wonder if the technology will remain relevant for good this time around? I believe so and I’ll give the top 5 reasons that I believe QR codes are no longer a fad.
Why QR Codes Are a Finally Mainstay
- Businesses will not want to give up the benefits that QR codes have brought to their bottom line. It allows them to gather data on consumer spending patterns through QR codes. Deals and special offers can be bundled with QR code systems and are easy to get in front of people when they look at their phones.
- Specifically, restaurants that use QR code menus can save 30 percent to 50 percent on labor costs by reducing or eliminating the need for servers to take orders and collect payments. Not to mention what they save by being able to eliminate the production of physical menus.
- According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, 30% of U.S. consumers over 18 prefer some form of a contactless payment option when they frequent a business. Businesses that are slow to adopt the technology risk being left behind in terms of offering the payment options that their customers desire most.
- The spread of QR codes have also let businesses integrate more tools for tracking, targeting and analytics allowing them to store digital information such as when, where and how often a scan occurs. While this raises red flags for privacy experts, QR codes have allowed some businesses to build a database of their customers, This level of consumer information is hard to obtain otherwise
- There are a growing number of payment and banking apps that have incorporated QR Code functionality as the main method to process bank transfers, payments and event e-ticketing. Tickets to things like cinemas, concerts, and flights now have hassle-free payment options and there are no signs of slowing down.
It has been a crucially important time for new technologies to step up and offer innovative solutions to specifically combat the spread of the coronavirus and in that same vein, QR codes have proven that they are a permanent solution through their ability to connect the digital world to the physical. According to a scanova survey, 46.81% of respondents agreed that QR codes make life easier in a touchless world and a good 38.99% of respondents want to see QR Codes used more broadly in the future. The technology has been normalized due to unforeseen circumstances but as a result consumers and marketers who were doubters before now believe in it’s many capabilities.
- Why 2021 is the year of QR codes. Sneh Ratna Choudhary. September 28, 2021 https://blog.beaconstac.com/2019/02/year-of-qr-codes/
- QR Code Statistics 2021: Up-To-Date Numbers On Global QR Code Usage
- Prosper Insights & Analytics survey https://prosperanalytics.info/
- GIF image https://blog.advids.co/20-qr-code-software-and-solution-video-marketing-examples/