Thinking / Are QR Codes Dead?

Are QR Codes Dead?

A few years ago, my colleague, Marcus Thomas Digital Strategist and Mobile Guru Scott Chapin, wrote a detailed blog post on the subject of QR codes – what they are, what they do, who’s using them and how. At the time and since then, we have implemented a number of QR code programs as part of broader digital efforts.

Now that the non-geek population seems to know what QR codes are (look in the FSIs in your Sunday paper and you’ll see many of them), the question comes up: “Are QR codes dead?”

First off, I find great irony in the supposition that now that “average Joes” know what they are, they must somehow be dead.

The fact that more and more people have seen them and know what they are is evidence that the QR code is alive and well, and living in your house. In fact, I’d venture to say that the use of QR codes is growing. (In fact 5 percent of the U.S. population used a QR code last year. Only 1 percent used QR codes in 2010.)

I could end the blog post right here, but that would be too easy. The question shouldn’t be whether QR codes are dead. The question should be “Are QR codes still only a curiosity?”

To that I’d answer, “If the only reason you’re interested in QR codes is that they’re a curiosity, you really need to go back to marketing school.”

In the evolved landscape of marketing in 2012, enlightened marketers are concerned not only with what’s new, but what works, how it works and what contribution it makes to the value proposition a client needs to make between its brand and its consumers.

Even if the “fun, cool, curiosity” factor of the QR code had diminished (which it hasn’t just yet), its value as a message expansion vehicle, a consumer engagement mechanism, and as a protector of natural resources (yep; I said it) is clearly valuable in the right program.

So what’s the right program? In the words of my friend Scott Chapin, “a successful QR code program better include the following elements: 1) they should be deployed only when you are targeting someone who has their phone on them (e.g., retail, trade show, or maybe even their couch); 2) has a code reader installed and knows how to use it (this is still a big problem); and 3) can benefit from the effort of getting everything set up to scan your content, i.e., it had better be high-value content that has been optimized for mobile.”