In 2011, hardly 6.2 percent of mobile audience of the United States used their mobile devices to scan a QR code. However, these funky little squares have become more common with the popularity of augmented reality in marketing and retail industry. Unfortunately, the QR codes never lived up to the hype it originally created, and for many marketers, it became a groan-inducing memory. Though most critics will happily point at its bad rap, it is essential to understand where it went wrong.
In most cases QR code failed due to lack of far-sightedness of the marketers. For example, the subway ad campaign of Red Bull, which was mostly depended on QR codes, failed due to the lack of mobile phone connectivity on most subways. The codes became useless and inaccessible without mobile phone connectivity and the campaign failed. Similarly, the campaign of FedEx was unsuccessful as the company failed to direct its purpose properly. The company incorporated the QR codes on their delivery van’s side and the fellow drivers most likely forgot to scan the code while driving down the highway.
Now let’s consider one of the QR success stories and you can understand how proper planning on the marketers’ part can help them to take advantage of this technology. Heinz incorporated QR codes on all its ketchup bottles a few years back to promote their new environmentally friendly packaging. Linking to that code, users could access a mobile site and win prizes simply by answering some of their “green” trivia questions. Over 1 million users were reported to scan the code, according to the official report of Heinz.
Marketers, especially those whose QR code campaigns failed, often wondered what went wrong. Now this is very important to understand why the campaign failed in order to avoid a similar fate for future technologies, especially in this era when mobile became the new way for marketers to interact with buyers. Thus, brands are becoming more interested in proliferation of QR codes to leverage upon the latest and innovative mobile technologies, especially augmented reality.
But before moving into augmented reality, it is important to understand why QR failed from the standpoint of a user. In most cases, the QR campaigns require “a high level of interactive buy-in”. Users need to through a number of steps for utilizing a code. To begin with, they have to activate a QR reader, followed by scanning the code, accepting the link and opening the site. The task is often daunting. Worse still, the users often take so much of pain only to discover that the end content is only a shortcut to the brand’s website. Here, marketers fail to realize that it is important to create engaging content for a successful campaign; otherwise, the users are more likely to skip the process.