Spike in QR code use driven by big brand marketing: Study

A comparison of QR (quick response) code adoption by North American businesses as a way to better directly interact with customers shows a 9,840 per cent year-over-year increase for the third quarter of this year, according to a new study.

It’s a spike in usage primarily driven by enterprise brand marketing and the growing popularity of the smart phone, said Mark Binns, chief marketing officer with Mobio Technologies Inc., a Vancouver-based maker of QR codes that released the research on Wednesday.

“QR codes are doing for static media what Web 2.0 did for the Internet. It’s turning it into a dynamic media,” said Binns.

The technology allows smart phone users to scan the code from a surface—be it print, desktop or television screen—and receive product information through a medium that was previously uni-directional.

Another driver behind the dramatic increase in QR code adoption, observed in the study, is that enterprises are starting to push out their brands by inviting customers to participate in contests.

The study also finds that males are beginning to catch up to the use of QR codes, a technology previously used by females because, said Binns, “it was information around products and purchasing decisions and women are typically the head of household that are making those decisions.”

The demographic usage trend for QR codes, while, at first, popular among smart phone users in the 25 to 44 age group, is now seeing increased activity from the 18 to 24 age group, the study reports.

Shaw Media Inc., a Toronto-based customer of Mobio Technologies’ QR codes for about four months, has been using the technology to deliver more in-depth product information to viewers during television commercials. The company is also using the codes during its late-night news broadcasts to interact with viewers through contests.

Andrew Glancy, a Burnaby, B.C.-based project manager for marketing ventures with Shaw Media, said the value in adopting QR codes was the ability to turn television from a passive to an interactive medium.

“It’s almost like putting you on par with online where viewers can interact with the content. They can get more out of it,” said Glancy. “It allows viewers to chase the information they would like to find as opposed to sitting passively and absorbing information.”

Analytics on Shaw Media viewers scanning the QR codes leads Glancy to agree there is a growing increase in usage of the technology. In particular, television and social media platforms, he said, have experienced a rise in the past six months.

For enterprises who haven’t yet ventured into using QR codes, Binns suggests trying the technology in social media because the platform is very “light-weight” and most companies already have a presence, such as a Facebook page, from which they can start.

As for where QR code technology is heading, Binns expects that personalization will factor into this mode of end user interaction. While, currently, scanning a QR code will give the same product or service information to different people, that will change as brands get to know the end user better.

“You may get different results depending on your history with the brand,” said Binns.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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