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10 December 2012

QR Codes: Here to Stay?

In an industry perpetually on the look-out for new and original ways to woo customers, the advent of QR codes has opened the door wide into a brave new world.  But it is only the marketers out there with the right creative imagination and a genuine interest in satisfying the curiosity of potential customers who will reap the rewards. Whether you love them, hate them or really can’t be bothered with them, QR codes are here to stay (for the time being anyway) and it’s all thanks to Denso Wave.

For those ‘not in the know’, back in 1994 the Japanese automotive company Denso Wave introduced the Quick Response Code technology to solve the issue of tracking parts in the auto-manufacturing process but soon saw the global, universal potential of this new barcode technology. QR codes are 2-dimensional bar codes that relay digital information to the 3-dimensional world making pages come to life and have become an inviting bridge between the printed and electronic worlds we love to engage with.

QR codes started to appear everywhere in Japan and with smart phone use already widespread, people soon integrated the practice of scanning and reading QR codes into their daily life. As a culture known for readily embracing new technology, the Japanese consumers set a cracking pace in adopting QR code reader apps onto their mobile devices and now the Western world is following suit. Downloading apps onto your smart phone is easy-peasy and spending a few moments scanning a QR code is not seen as in inconvenience so long as the companies putting them out there make it worth your while. In fact, it probably won’t be long before smart phones come with pre-installed QR code readers so removing one of the key barriers to participation in any QR code campaign.

Nothing is more disappointing than to eagerly scan an inviting QR code in the hope of finding a welcome reward and to be led instead to a generic website home page offering no advantage. The classic mistake is failing to make your website compatible for mobile browsing which is an instant turn-off for tech-savvy consumers with naturally high expectations. Companies who have embraced the power of QR codes know that it’s all about deeper consumer connection and unless you can inspire interaction and response you’re not going to reap significant rewards. In fact, if you fail to deliver an advantage when people are motivated to engage with your business through one of your QR code campaigns, you might not get a second chance

QR codes have to be useful to the consumer and more and more people are compelled to scan whether it’s to receive a discount, to access additional information, to make a purchase or even to enter a competition – the motivations can be many and varied. If you’re one of those marketers who thought that Facebook was just a fad, take a look at how much the social media explosion has affected your marketing strategy today. The same could be true of QR code technology and the question is whether you jump on the band wagon this time or whether you sit quietly waiting for the dust to settle, only to find that you are on your own! Plan wisely, think creatively and employ the right tactics - the potential to engage with new customers via QR Codes is huge and any marketing department which doesn’t have QR codes in their toolkit is definitely missing a trick.

With the universal unfolding of this popular digital technology, consumers are now increasingly equipped with QR code readers and it seems that the perceived ubiquitous nature of QR codes is undeniable. As to whether their omnipresent status will last, who knows - maybe strange black and white pixelated squares will be our new best friend or maybe something brighter and shinier will appear on the digital horizon tomorrow and QR codes will follow in the footsteps of good old ‘betamax’.

“Beta who?”  I hear our younger readers ask...

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