The challenges with QR codes

The challenges with QR codes

Let’s start with what is a QR code?

Based on Wikipedia:

QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside of the industry due to its fast readability and comparatively large storage capacity. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of any kind of data (e.g., binary, alphanumeric, or Kanji symbols).

Created by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994  to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes.

It looks like this: You may have seen it already in print magazines, direct mail pieces, billboards, real estate postings and even emails and websites.

What you can put in a QR code:

  • Text
  • Hyperlink
  • Telephone number
  • SMS/Text
  • Contact entry
  • Calendar entry
  • Website
  • Video

Check out my example below for a couple of billboards. The Calvin Klein campaign to the right generated quite the buzz on social media.

As you can see some advertising agencies are spending lots of time thinking of creative ways to use QR codes.

You need a QR scanner to scan the image and see its contents. You can get a QR code scanner you have a smart phone. Without the QR scanner these things are worthless.

Challenge 1: How many people have smartphones? Pew Internet says that 1/3 of Americans own one or 35%. By 2015, 200 million people will own a smartphone or a tablet or both. Now, that’s a significant number of people using smartphones.

Challenge 2: How many of the people with smartphones know what a QR code is and that they need to download a QR scanner? The phones mostly used to scan QR codes are iPhone and Android. 68% of all scans are done on the iPhone. Most people expect to get a coupon or a deal. For a great info graphic on QR codes, packed with information on where QR codes are being used click here. QR code scanning increased 4549% between Q1 of 2010 and Q1 of 2011. Solution: Add a reader with every smartphone and people will start using them more.

Now we are talking small numbers of the overall population.

As marketers we love to use QR codes but they also come with a set of challenges. As with everything else, THINK before you slap a QR code on something. Why? Scott Scratten from UnMarketing who’s a brilliant and funny guy explains it.  It’s a short and to the point 2 min video. Watch it!

I completely agree with Scott. I even saw a QR code on a pineapple I bought at the store. WHY? I scanned it thinking it will give me nutritional information which would have made sense. Instead, it sent me to a web page with some general information about the company. ARHHHH!!!


For more information on QR codes – best practices and free resources, here’s a good article. Have you used QR codes? If so, how? I know I have one on the back of my business card. if you scan it it will take you to my website homepage.

Challenge 3: Make sure if you take people to a web place that it is mobile friendly. So I have work to do.

Special thanks to Scott Scratten from UnMarketing for showing me this video! You rock!

Tags :

About Milena Regos

Marketer, Consultant and Creator of the Simple Marketing Blueprint online marketing course for busy professionals.

Leave a comment