QR Codes Prove To Be A Curiosity


People are making use of QR codes, although they’re not really sure of the purpose those codes are supposed to serve.

According to a study of more than 1,200 people by research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, more than 80% of them recognize the black-and-white squares that link the real and virtual worlds (although only about 20% can refer to them as “QR”), and half of all smartphone owners have used their devices to scan the codes.

Beyond that, however, people are a bit murky on the purpose behind the codes. Only 18% said they used the information from the QR code to make a purchase; 21% said they passed the information on to someone else, while 57% said they did nothing with the information.

“I think there’s still a learning process [for QR codes],” Jeff McKenna, a senior consultant at Chadwick Martin Bailey, tells Marketing Daily. “We’re still in the early stages of people using smartphones for this purpose.”



Although people are familiar with the codes, they’re still in the curiosity stage about their purpose. Of those who scanned the codes, nearly half (46%) said they did so because they were curious about what it would do, while 41% said they wanted to get more information about a company or event. Only 18% said they scanned the code to take advantage of a discount or gift and 16% said they used it to access exclusive content. Only 6% said they used it to buy something.

“While there is a strong curiosity factor, there is a [small] group of people who are relying on QR codes,” McKenna says. “We’re still in the process of understanding the types of people that use them and the information they seek.”

Among those who scanned the codes, only 18% found the information from them useful, while 42% found the information of no use. About a similar number (41%) said they had mixed feelings about the information. (Men found the QR codes more useful than women, however.)

Even those who had never used the codes, however, had opinions about how they could or should be used. Forty-three percent of consumers surveyed said they would be interested in using the codes for discounts or other offers, while 26% said they would use them to find out more about a product or service (although only 18% said they would use them to get more information about a brand or company). Twenty-three percent said they would use them to purchase a product.

Despite the near ubiquity of the codes, most are still using old media sources to access the information from them. According to the survey, 35% of consumers accessed QR codes from a newspaper or magazine, while only 18% used the code from a package or container. Other access points included Web sites (13%), direct mailings (11%), billboards or other outdoor signage (11%) and email (4%).

3 comments about "QR Codes Prove To Be A Curiosity".
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  1. Mark Kolier from moddern marketing, January 6, 2012 at 4:15 p.m.

    And QR codes will likely never be more than a curiosity. I railed on that in a recent post -
    BTW - why would an advertiser have a QR code on a subway train where there is no internet access? Duh.

  2. Elizabeth Sisney from MDnetSolutions, January 9, 2012 at 11:27 a.m.

    Specifically QR Codes have potential in the area of patient intake in the Hospital or Practice setting. Overall, sustainable QR code usage will be less about a POS approach and more about process improvement. Not as sexy, but definitely a viable function.

  3. Paul Friederichsen from BrandBiz, January 10, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.

    One of the major problems with QR codes is that the websites that they connect with have not been optimized for smartphone use. Therefore, the user is sent to a normal site (designed for PC's) and usually with no apparent relevance to the promotion the QR code is intended to support. This is particularly problematic at point of sale. However, one of the best uses is to directly connect the customer to a video demonstration of the product, such as scanning the QR code of a lawn sprinkler.

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