QR (Quick Response) code is a two-dimensional barcode image that can be scanned by smartphones or QR reading devices and linked directly to a website, phone number, email, etc. It is designed to be decoded at high speed so a wealth of information can be shared to people in just one scan. It first became popular in Japan and is now gaining popularity in the Europe and other continents. If used well, QR codes can be effective in advertising, marketing, and customer service.
However, according to a report by eMarketer entitled “QR Codes: Marketers Keep Hitting 'Go,' but Consumer Adoption Still Slow”, QR codes have not successfully connected with a large audience. Although the percentage of smartphone users will grow from 43.9% in 2011 to 58.3% in 2014, consumers will experience a disconnection between their scanning experience and what they receive. A large percentage of smartphone users do not regularly use barcodes as evidenced by a study conducted by Mobio, an international mobile payments and marketing company, where it found out that 60% of North American consumers used barcode only once in the third quarter of 2011.
There seems to be a misalignment between what consumers want and what companies prefer when it comes to QR codes. Consumers basically want to use barcodes for discounts or coupons while companies often use barcodes to provide information. This misalignment drives away consumers from using QR codes.
“Until marketers move beyond the practice of pushing content to consumers via mobile barcodes, and instead give consumers what they want ... many consumers will continue to consider their first mobile barcode experience their last,” says eMarketer.