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The answer to that question depends on what you want a QR Code (short for “quick response”) to do?  QR Codes were first designed for the automotive industry in Japan in 1994 by Denso Wave used primarily for tracking vehicles in manufacturing. With the introduction of the first smartphone in 1999, QR codes gained popularity not only commercially but also with innovative new uses particularly in marketing. As Wikipedia points out, “QR codes are now used in a much broader context, including both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed at mobile-phone users (termed mobile tagging). QR codes may be used to display text to the user, to add a vCard contact to the user’s device, to open a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), or to compose an email or text message. Users can generate and print their own QR codes for others to scan and use via downloadable or online applications. The technology has since become one of the most used types of two-dimensional barcode.”  Everyone has quickly recognizes a QR code since they are ubiquitous but many have no idea what they do or how they could use them for their business.

QR Codes Have a Bad Reputation
Forbes wrote in 2012, “It is obvious that QR codes have a bad rep and haven’t gained much traction on the consumer end of the equation….in the past few years brands have flocked to QR codes as if they were the next big thing. While there isn’t one company that dictates the space, there seems to be a graveyard of companies that have given it a try.” If you Google ‘are QR Codes dead‘ there are a wealth of articles on this subject. However the reports on the death of QR Codes are greatly exaggerated.

Statistics on QR Code Use
The most recent stats reported in January 2016 on QR Code use among mobile device users is one from Structural Graphics, which says QR codes are on the rise from previous reports. “According to ExactTarget, 34% of smartphone users in the United States have scanned a QR Code while shopping in-store (ExactTarget Mobile Behavior Report 2014). This rises to 46% of those who own tablets. This doesn’t include people scanning QR Codes on direct mail, posters, in-store displays, packaging, and magazines. In fact, when ExactTarget asked about scanning coupons or QR Codes, it found that 43% of consumers had done so.”

Older reports from Forbes in March 2012 stated the following: “In June 2011, 14 million U.S. smartphone users scanned a QR code. Impressive, right? Not so much when you look at the fact that, at the end of July, 82.2 million Americans owned smartphones. That’s only 17 percent of smartphone users scanning a QR code. But how many actually used QR codes on a regular basis? How many have actually scanned more than once? How many still have the app on their phone that lets them scan the code? Out of those that still scan repeatedly, only half “sometimes” feel they have received something of value for their efforts.”

webstrategies says, “Research from 2013 revealed that only 21 percent of American smartphone users reported ever scanning a barcode and only two percent reported doing so on a regular basis. In fact, based on research conducted by Inc in 2012, 97% of consumers didn’t even know what a QR code was.

Looking at those stats a savvy business owner might immediately jump to the conclusion that QR Codes are not worth pursuing. However, it depends on what you want a QR Code to do for your business or your organization whether it works for you.

What’s the Point?
The most successful use of QR Codes is to explain clearly what the advantage of scanning is to the user. A call to action which should be simple to let the user know WHY they should scan the QR code.There are some examples that have shown the QR Code works well for some.  And there are of course some caveats and nuances to avoid according to Inc.

Successful QR Code Use Cases
(1) Taco Bell and ESPN saw big success from a December 2012 QR code-only campaign which ran for the Bowl Championship Series college football games. 225,000 responded using the QR Code placed on its variety 12 pack taco boxes and accompanying soda cups. According to Mobile Marketer, “Football fans were encouraged to scan the QR codes, which were prominently placed on the packaging. From there, users were able to watch exclusive mobile videos of ESPN college football analyst Mark May previewing upcoming games.”

(2) Messaging Apps
SnapChat, Kik, and WeChat have made successful use of QR Codes according to Fortune.

(3) Frisia Mini Marshmallows
Astra Sweets found a new way to create a brand community around its Frisia Mini Marshmallows. Their on-pack promotion featured a QR code and URL that customers used with their phones. They are taken to a short mobile survey, encouraging them to share how they enjoy the product. According to SurveyAnyplace “97% of respondents provided an email address, and 10% took photos of how they consume the product, which they shared with Astra Sweets.”

(4) Business Card
Scan shows how you can make your own business card with a QR Code

(5) Packaging with a smart label QR Code
You have seen these QR codes with the package material supplied by the manufacturer.

(6) A QR code campaign with Lady Gaga and other artists within her management group focused on a simple mobile friendly experience, that instantly enabled a follow on Twitter or a song to purchase on iTunes and resulted in a QR code industry conversion rate average of below 1% and raised that to 55% using Scan’s QR code generator.

(7) Structural Graphics has 21 successful use cases for QR Codes worthy of reviewing.

You may find a useful way to implement QR codes for your business with some careful thought out planning and implementation. Let Connectech assist you if you need further help.