QR Codes and Their Emergence into our Society

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Jul 9, 2012

Quick response (QR) codes have come a long way from their invention in 1994 by Denso Wave company.  The QR code originated as a tool for tracking automotive manufacturing parts in Japan, and has risen to prominence in marketing and advertising campaigns in 2011. The ability for QR codes to be read on mobile devices has helped with increasing its popularity in today’s tech-savvy society. Consumers, marketers, and print service providers are beginning to become more aware of this technology by adopting it into their existing operations. As consumers, we often times see QR codes in many areas of our daily lives.  The codes can be seen on our monthly statements encouraging customers to take action, in printed magazines to deliver further information, and on retail packaging for brands that want to engage with customers.

Recently, we have seen an increase in the interest and use of QR codes by consumers.  In a recent InfoTrends study entitled, Mobile Technology: Making Print Interactive, an estimated 52.4 million American mobile phone owners have interacted with a mobile code.   Interestingly, consumers who have interacted with a mobile code earn more than the average U.S. income and are very likely to scan QR codes again.

In 2011, roughly 90% of marketer respondents reported some level of familiarity with mobile response code technology.  This is a significant increase compared to the familiarity of 64.7% in 2010.  The increase in familiarity of QR codes over a span of one year may be attributed to the increasing willingness and demand to test QR codes in a wide variety of marketing campaigns.  The number one reason for the use of mobile response code technologies was the ability to add interactivity to traditional media. Having interactivity is beneficial for marketers because of the ability to have instant customer conversations as well as getting measurements of effectiveness available through the embedded tracking mechanism.  For market research purposes, this is critical in determining if the campaign was effective enough to reach their intended target audience.

The inclusion of cross-media marketing offerings has dramatically increased over these past few years. Print service providers find them-selves offering mobile barcode and mobile marketing services to their customers. At the end of 2010, InfoTrends surveyed close to 200 print service providers in the United States. This survey included the types of marketing services they were offering to clients. From that survey, 36.7% of printers were offering mobile code services to clients, while 16.3% were offering other mobile marketing services like SMS messaging. We even see an increase in print volumes forecasted in years to come. As displayed in Figure 1 from a recent InfoTrends study entitled, European Software Investment Outlook 2012, we see that print volumes associated with cross-media will dramatically increase within two years.

 Figure 1. Share of Print Volume that is Cross-media

Q: What percent of your print volume contains cross-media elements, e.g. Personalized URL or QR codes?


Source: European Production Software Investment Outlook, InfoTrends, 2012

Mobile technology is now the current forerunner of interest of consumers. It is up to the marketers, and print service providers, to continue to give consumers what they are looking for without stepping too far away from the roots of traditional media. The time is now for the mobile technology and traditional media to collaborate and produce interactive, informative print content that consumers are looking for.

InfoTrends has been paying close attention to the awareness and adoption of QR codes by consumers, marketers, and print service providers.  For a deeper insight into their findings please see our analysis report titled: How to Be Successful with QR Codes: Everything you need to know about Quick Response Codes. The analysis covers a variety of topics relating to mobile code technology. It includes primary research, providing background on consumer demographics (who interacts with QR codes, where does that take place), why are QR codes used today and what are some of the issues / challenges around QR codes? The guide also features tests from the Flemish Innovation Center for Graphic Communications who tested various popular smartphones and tablets in combination with scanner apps and QR code generation software. The analysis includes case studies from the U.S. and Europe, and concludes with tips and tricks for QR code creation, what not to do with QR codes, and shows examples of QR art codes that blend better in with the artwork.

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