There has been a lot of buzz surrounding quick response (QR) codes. A QR code is a square two-dimensional barcode that is readable by mobile phones with photo/scanner capabilities. Scanning a QR code with a mobile phone takes the user to a landing page or launches a video without the need to manually type in a URL. Although they do not have to have a marketing application, the vast majority of QR codes are being presented on billboards, buses, business cards, direct mail, in-store displays, posters, and print ads as an alternative means to drive business to a dedicated Website.
Although they first gained popularity overseas, QR codes are now catching on in the United States. According to Mobio Identity Systems’ report entitled “The Naked Facts: Whiplash Edition,” QR barcode use in North America grew by an astounding 4,549 percent during Q1 2011 in relation to the same quarter last year. The report also notes that the primary users of QR codes are females between the ages of 35 and 44.
The key is that these codes are showing up as an integral part of cross-media campaigns that integrate print, mobile, social, and online. For example, Conde-Nast's Glamour magazine reported that its September 2011 issue will include QR codes that enable readers to participate in promotions or link content in the print publication to their social networking sites. Macy's New York department store also began appearing inside the company’s trademark stars in storefront windows and through the stores. When scanned, these codes direct customers to Macy's special "Backstage Pass" landing page that offers behind-the-scenes videos of designers. Pacific Natural Foods, however, uses QR codes on its packaging to put recipes, cooking demonstrations, and shopping lists at consumers’ fingertips. There are various means that QR codes can be used by consumers, which gives marketers another touchpoint for their clients.
In regards to business-to-business (B2B) marketing, integration with mobile channels will be essential. As in the business-to-consumer (B2C) market, QR codes can also be used to bridge the gap between print and mobile. They can be found at trade shows; in industry magazine ads; and on business cards, catalogs, brochures, direct mail, packaging, as well as equipment component labels. These methods focus on helping the B2B market educate itself and informing customers. QR codes are also being used to build out opt-in B2B mobile databases.
The information above is featured in InfoTrends’ QR Codes are Everywhere! and QR Codes: a Reality for B2B Marketers analyses. These reports address the trends and challenges currently affecting the industry’s use of QR codes as a marketing initiative, and provide InfoTrends’ recommendations for effectively capitalizing on their use. For more information on the Business Development Strategies Service, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.