QR codes are popping up everywhere. Not long ago, these mysterious patterned squares could be found in an occasional magazine or on a mailer. Now you can find them on grocery displays, packaging, even on bus shelters.
More QR codes must mean more people are using them! Right? Sort of. A new study from Chadwick Martin Bailey shows that people are scanning, but they don’t know what do with the results.
Here’s a visual from Marketing Charts:
I’m part of that top line, too. When QR codes were new, I scanned them all the time. Now, I rarely bother. I find that most codes just lead me to a website that I could have arrived at more easily by typing in the URL. Other than that, I’ve been led to a few recipes and some behind the scenes videos for movies. Nothing thrilling and certainly nothing worth sharing.
I suppose there’s some hope in the fact that 18% of people made a purchase after using a code. I don’t recall this ever being an option on codes I’ve scanned but. . .41% also said they found the information to be “useful.” Which is funny, seeing as most people said they didn’t use this “useful” information.
So what are people expecting when they scan a QR code? Not much. 41% said “more information,” but 46% said they scanned simply because they were curious. Only 16% were looking for exclusive content and that’s a problem. Shouldn’t the information hidden behind a QR code be “exclusive?” QR codes are codes. That implies they hold the secret to a treasure. But why bother if what you access is available to anyone who visits the site online, code or not?
Here’s the most interesting stat from the study. 18% scanned a QR code in order to get a discount, coupon or gift. You can bet that number is low not because people don’t want deals but because brands aren’t using QR codes that way.
I don’t get it. A QR code is the perfect path to an online deal. If I’m going to go through the trouble to pull out my phone, line up the code and scan, then I want something for my efforts. Something tangible, like a B1G1 Free sandwich as my favorite fast food place.
QR code creators, stop sending us to your generic, company website page or presenting me with a recipe I could find anywhere online. Put something truly unique and cool inside those QR codes and become part of the of “shared it” line on the graph, instead of the “I did nothing.”