QR codes in consumer marketing – how to do it right

Are QR codes in Germany not just for geeks and social media gurus anymore? Is it time for consumer goods marketing pros to figure them out too? Aside from the fact that a brand proves modernity and coolness just by displaying QR codes  – can and do people actually use them?

This is an area where things are changing rapidly: Data from a study published in spring by the Schmalkalden university of applied sciences  –  which were gathered in September 2010 – already show that virtually all newly bought mobile phones were smartphones. Looking at the data about the further market penetration of smartphones it makes sense to assume that they will be everywhere by the end of 2012. The situation with the data rates is not quite as impressive: Around 35 per cent of users still had mobile internet tariffs in 2010 which incurred costs for each time they used their phone to go online – but even here the market is moving. Now comes the last hurdle: having an app on the phone to read the codes with.  This was the case with around 50 per cent of phones already.

So far the “technical reach” – but to make users actually use the QR codes, marketing pros need to be inventive; after all soon there will be codes everywhere on adverts, packagings, mailings and labels, but users have a limited online budget through the optional tariffs mentioned, megabyte limits on flat rates or simply the good old problem of having less and less time.  The survey shows that it is crucial for users to recognise a clear added value in scanning the QR codes before they actually decide to do so – and this is where a  good familiarity with the target group and great creativity come into mobile marketing!

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