QR codes are being used by an increasing number of brands - from airlines to banks to retail. QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes which can be read by select smart phones. Users can scan the QR code to display a web page within their mobile browser, display text or access contact information.
The benefit for marketers is to be able to provide relevant information to users who are at a specific place, or who have your physical product in their hands. It also gives advertisers useful metrics to understand who is interacting with their ads and where.
Here's how it works:
The brand publicizes the QR code. In this case, it was on a print ad for Hearts of Fire diamonds.
Here's a close-up of the code:
The user then opens a QR code app on a smart phone to scan the QR code:
A customized web page opens in the user's smart phone web browser:
While it may seem like QR codes will only appeal to the tech savvy crowd, I think practical applications such as mobile boarding passes and bicycle registration will drive adoption.
In addition, Google sent out 100,000 QR code decals to businesses in December 2009, so expect to see an increasing number of these in store windows and point of purchase displays in the future.
QR codes are already being adopted by fashionable brands such as Missoni, Clinique and Calvin Klein.
In Japan, Louis Vuitton even used a designer QR code in one of their campaigns.
QR codes could be used in businesses with physical locations to encourage people to sign up for your email list, "like" you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter. Brands can use QR codes to create campaigns with hidden content or other game-like elements. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies can use QR codes to provide additional content about their product and drive people to their website for further engagement. QR codes are not complex and the cost is relatively low. The timing is right to start considering how QR codes can fit into your overall marketing mix.