These days, QR codes can be found on the sides of buildings, business cards, buses, magazines, postcards… even tombstones! While there has been an increase in their use among (mostly male) early tech adopters, it has yet to be seen if they will be embraced by the mainstream. Many QR code skeptics believe that QR codes may become ubiquitous too rapidly and–without thoughtful analysis of consumer behavior–run the risk of being selectively detuned as ‘noise’. Savvy marketers, brands and job seekers have found ways to overcome the standardization and uniformity of the QR code experience through creative design and compelling campaigns.
The main motivations for consumer QR code use are the coupons, discounts and deals. The second-most-cited reason for scanning a QR code is to access additional information about a product or service. Marketers and brands are closely watching these trends and aim to provide rich content to their audience in ways that are not possible in traditional print media and outdoor advertising. Calvin Klein made good use of QR codes to create outdoor billboards that replaced their traditionally racy ads of scantily clad models with unsexy QR codes enticing users to scan to gain access to ‘uncensored’ ads on their phone.
With an increasingly mobile consumer base utilizing their smartphones at multiple, different stages in the shopping process–not to mention the inexpensiveness of QR creation–there are multiple opportunities for brands to provide consumers with content-rich information and targeted deals. In a recent NPR “Planet Money” podcast series, they followed the entire supply chain, design and production process of a t-shirt. They took ideas from listeners that included a QR code that shoppers could scan to get the details of their shirt’s journey from cotton harvest through label printing. In an age where consumers are more conscious than ever about ethical work environments and social responsibility, QR codes provide a great opportunity for narrative brand storytelling.