QR (Quick Response) codes have been around awhile in Japan and China, but have just recently begun to pick up steam in the U.S. and the West. If you are not familiar with them, they are the next generation of barcodes, can be printed on just about anything and deliver a wide variety of information to consumers.
The beauty of the QR codes is that they can help marketers transition smoothly into a robust mobile strategy. As over 60% of moms now have smartphones, developing a credible mobile strategy is a must for most consumer brands. Sixty percent is a big number and while most moms are just getting used to using their smartphones to check email, many more have mastered emailing photos and video and posting mobile updates to their Facebook pages. Moms, in fact, are leading the way in smartphone adoption!
As brands scramble to capitalize on this ability to be constantly connected to their target consumer -- no mean feat -- a wide variety of ways to do that seems to be popping up. I hear talk of building apps, advertising and creating mobile websites. All of these are great, but they take time to study and implement. QR codes, on the other hand, are a no-brainer. They fit into your already existing programs, cost very little and are extremely flexible at delivering information about your brand.
QR codes can be and probably should be printed on all of your current promotional materials, from billboards to POP. They can deliver something as simple as a link to your website. On a billboard, where space is at a premium, commuters can snap your QR code on their smartphone cameras (preferably not while driving) and save the link to your website to visit while on the go or save for later. What a great way to cut through the clutter and instantly have your consumer remember your message!
QR codes can deliver e-coupons right in the store when printed on your POP materials or drive consumers to the store when printed in magazines and other advertising materials. More creatively they can get consumers to "like" your Facebook page instantly, deliver digital prizes and enter sweepstakes. Their use is limited only by imagination and what you can put on a website.
While building apps is long and involved, but sexy, unless you have a really useful benefit to provide to your target consumer on a regular basis, your app is going to languish on your consumer's phone and eventually be deleted. QR codes, on the other hand, are quick to make and easy to understand -- by both consumers and management.