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Why Marketer Love for QR Codes Is Not Shared by Consumers

04-Jan-2012 Quick-response codes are everywhere these days, even the soccer field. This fall, a squad of London footballers shaved the back of their heads in the design as a promotional stunt. But consumers are not nearly as excited about QR codes as marketers are.

The codes are a great idea in theory. They let marketers make all sorts of media - print, billboards, even packaging - clickable and interactive. When scanned with a special app downloaded to a smartphone, QR codes can call up links, text messages or videos. They can spark e-commerce or generate a lead.

But in practice, while QR codes are affixed to everything from rental cars to Bratz dolls, only 5% of Americans who own mobile phones actually used the 2-D barcodes in the three months ending July 2011, according to Forrester Research. And those 14 million early adopters tended to be young, affluent and male.

Experts cite three reasons that QR codes haven't caught on. First, people are confused about how to scan them. Two, there's little uniformity among the apps required to read them. Last, some who have tried the technology were dissuaded by codes that offer little useful information or simply redirect the user to the company's website.

None of this deters marketers, who seem to be slapping the codes on products for all age groups and demographics.

"QR codes are definitely everywhere," said Kelli Robertson, director-strategy for digital agency AKQA.

The QR phenomenon is "another instance of shiny-object syndrome," said Melissa Parrish, Forrester's senior analyst-social and mobile marketing. "Something becomes trendy or sexy, and marketers feel they have to jump onboard to position themselves as innovative and make sure they don't fall behind."

Read full article. Cited in AdAge Digital eNews Update, Wednesday 4 January 2011.

 


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