Is QR Worth the Trip? Consumers Still Unsure

QROnly 28% of mobile users who have used QR codes more than once say they “usually” get something in return that made the effort worthwhile. Another 3% (call them QR enthusiasts?) say they always get something good from the goofy-looking digital symbols.

The use of 2D mobile codes in media and ad material is always good for a debate among marketers. Some argue they effectively extend physical assets into a digital interaction and engagement. Others wonder if the multiple steps involved in activating a QR code Microsoft tag or other scannable item pay off for the consumer consistently.

According to a survey of 500 U.S. consumers by research firm Russell Herder, mobile customers may be as undecided about the utility of 2D codes as the marketers. In a new white paper on “The QR Question,” Herder found that 52% of repeat code snappers said the process only “sometimes” produces a fair exchange of value. For 15% of QR users the platform “rarely” delivers value.

Herder researchers say the QR code is still not recognized by all. While 72% say they have seen a code, almost three of every 10 say they don’t know what a 2D code actually is. About one in five relatively sophisticated mobilistas (those who go online with their phone) still don’t know what they are. 

Demographics are key to understanding when it comes to mobile 2D codes. While close to 80% of 18-24s recognize them, closer to 60% of the 45+ segment do. Arguably, for a phenomenon that is relatively new in the U.S., those rates of recognition are not too bad. 

Still, whatever ambivalence there may be over the platform, 54% of those who have used QR codes and have a cell phone that is capable of going online say they are likely to use them again.

In order to improve consumer confidence with the scanning process, Herder recommends that marketers not only target the right demographic, but pay attention to the ritual surrounding code snapping. They require time and leisure to activate, so consider the situations in which the consumer will encounter them.

Herder also warns that as QR codes become ubiquitous, they risk also turning invisible to consumers. Finding creative ways to craft and position the codes will help cut through the clutter.

4 comments about "Is QR Worth the Trip? Consumers Still Unsure".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Tyler Coffin from Coffin media works, October 11, 2011 at 11:47 p.m.

    QR Codes are a great way to connect with existing customers and a great way to attract new customers/clients. Marketers just need to make sure they are doing QR Code marketing correctly. There are too many examples of QR Code FAILS that turn of consumers from not only QR Codes but your business/brand.

    Biggest mistake using QR Codes....not linking to a mobile friendly website! To learn how to properly create and deploy a QR Code Marketing campaign, check out

  2. William James from Journal Media Group, October 12, 2011 at 9:17 a.m.

    I agree with Tyler Coffin, there are a lot of bad QR code examples out there. Some rules to live with in QR codes. Always use a URL shortner as too much information in the code will fail to read. Always take your customer to a page that speaks directly to the advertising promotion. and always ensure there is a mobile landing page. Success is in sharing:)

  3. Optify Inc. from Optify, October 12, 2011 at 1:56 p.m.

    Both of these comments provide great insight. Another way we have seen success in QR codes is though using them at conferences as a creative marketing communication channel to connect a physical marketing touch with an online engagement. This is something we can track and measure over time. Using Optify, we also measure the success of our mobile marketing campaigns by tracking visits, leads and conversation percentages for our QR code campaigns. For more information about how we do this, or for some specific tips about how you can do the same, see our presentation here:

  4. Stacey Sayer from NeoMedia, October 13, 2011 at 11:37 a.m.

    This article underscores both the potential of QR codes and also the acute need for industry-wide best practices. As such, NeoMedia has developed a set of Mobile Barcode Best Practices, available for free at We encourage brands, retailers, ad agencies, and the like to download the guide and use it in strategizing their next QR campaign.

Next story loading loading..