Scanbuy CEO Perspective: That’s right—QR Codes are hotter than ever!
We live in a digital world where consumers now live in the moment. They want access information when and where they want. With the prevalence of Smartphones over the last 10 years, consumers now have a tremendous amount of information right at their fingertips, freeing them from the need to travel to multiple stores to research a purchase.
The question is how can brands take advantage of this new digital world to shape consumers’ decisions? One thing is for sure—marketers that have embraced QR Codes as part of their digital strategy are ahead of the game!
For more than a decade Scanbuy has remained at the forefront of mobile marketing. Largely credited for popularizing QR Codes in the Western hemisphere, Scanbuy has been providing enterprise-class QR Code services to the largest global brands, from Mondelez, Hershey, Pepsi, and Heineken to HP, Enterprise, Staples and Starbucks. I’m proud to share that we continue to process millions of QR Code scans from consumers from over 120 countries.
During our early days, when Scanbuy first started introducing QR Codes to brands, we were at the forefront of mobile marketing; with the most visionary companies including QR Codes in magazine ads, marketing collateral, products, movie posters, retail flyers and even on billboards in Manhattan’s Time Square. Success required a strong call to action – Marketing 101 for many, but forgotten by others. Those that included a call to action enjoyed consumer engagements and interactions as promised. The marketers that simply plopped a QR Code without a message expected consumers to magically know that there was something exciting and valuable waiting for consumers behind the QR Code. As Smartphones became ubiquitous, consumer engagement grew exponentially and usage sky rocketed.
Over the years, QR Codes usage followed The Gartner Hype Cycle ’s path toward its current state of maturity.
QR Codes can now be found on products, equipment, signs, windows, cars, posters and documents. They are being used in apps, magazines, theme parks, retail stores and for payment, coupons, authentication, tracking and tracing.
The Smartphone has become an integral part of everyday life, to the point where, according to BI Future of Retail 2018, consumers spend more than 3 hours a day accessing the internet on their phone, beating out any other device! Brands were fast to recognize the need to reach consumers on their mobile devices, increasing their global digital marketing spend, which is set to reach $306 billion by 2020. Digital marketing provides them with the ability to reach millions of shoppers —based on location, gender, preferences and behaviors—and deliver personalized content that is targeted and relevant to the individual during the micro-moments.
To optimize their digital marketing spend Brands demand concrete results and strong consumer engagement, not just buzz. Therefore, Brands turn to proven technologies that deliver results and they are shunning away from technology that requires consumer education, a new app download, or a new behavior. Consumers don’t want to download another app to engage with a Brand, and no Brand wants to spend millions of dollars educating a consumer on a new fad technology. Settling for hype of the Next Big Thing is no longer an acceptable business practice; Brands want measurable results. The mobile graveyard is full of the “Next Big Thing” with no results to speak of.
QR Codes are, simply put, the most effective mobile tool when it comes to mobile interactions with the physical world. What’s more, QR Codes are not only a unidirectional gateway bridging the physical and digital world (scans & payment), but also connecting the digital to the physical world (coupons & tickets.)
Throughout 2017, QR Codes continued to drive millions of interactions and engagements. Most American adults have scanned a QR Code at least once – demonstrating consumer familiarity with QR Codes that are seen everywhere in their everyday life. Consumers want the easiest and fastest way to coupons, product information, rich content, and savings; QR Codes provide them exactly that!
Who’s Using QR Codes?
It’s difficult to find a vertical or industry that isn’t successfully using QR Codes.
Back in 2016, Congress, on a bi-partisan basis, endorsed the use of QR Codes within the scope of a new GMO labeling law; and manufacturers have begun to adopt the initiative, with millions of products in the market having QR Codes with a SmartLabel call to action. SmartLabel QR Codes allow consumers to easily and instantly access more product information than could ever fit on the package label.
Furthermore, according to Juniper Research, QR coupons redeemed in 2017 reached 3.1 Billion, and will reach 5.3 billion by 2022. Over 1 billion mobile devices will use QR Codes to access discounts by 2022. QR Codes are now so prevalent that Apple integrated QR Code reader-functionality right into its camera application and Google added the same onto Chrome!
What’s more, the retailer Target recently announced a QR Code-based payment system. Add to that the global use and success of QR Codes, notably in China through WeChat and Alipay and the almost 1 billion users utilizing QR Codes to buy, sell and connect, and you have a compelling picture of the increasingly important position of QR Codes in the mobile marketing arena and in everyday lives.
Regardless of where you stood on QR Codes in the past—QR Codes have proven to be ubiquitous, prevalent, engaging and capable of driving strong consumers’ engagements.
It is clear that QR Codes have become a key tool in the digital transformation of the consumer goods and retail industries, enabling it to merge physical and digital worlds in areas like marketing, logistics, traceability, transparency, augmented reality and payment. It’s no longer just my humble opinion, the market has spoken: QR Codes are hotter than ever!