In marketing, QR codes have been the butt of jokes for years. The funky little splotches that showed up in advertising on everything from magazines to transit buses were supposed to revolutionize the way people find out information about products and services.
Except that … QR codes never lived up to the hype.
While a few advertisers stuck with QR codes doggedly, for the most part we saw fewer and fewer of them after their first initial years of splash.
But now, QR codes are making a comeback. It turns out that they’ve become central to mobile marketing tactics.
We’re talking about QR couponing, which is exploding. Newly published estimates by Juniper Research, a digital marketing consulting firm, show that nearly 1.3 billion coded coupons were redeemed via mobile devices in 2017.
Moreover, Juniper is forecasting that the number of coupons with QR codes being redeemed via mobile devices will continue strong at least through 2022.
A big reason for the sharp increase in use is built-in QR functionality on smartphones – led by Apple which has begun including QR reader functionality as part of the camera application on its new iPhones.
This action takes away a huge barrier that once confronted users. The lack of in-built readers meant that consumers had to download a separate QR code scanner app.
We know from experience that one more action step like that is often the difference between market adoption and market avoidance.
But with that hurdle out of the way, major retailers are starting to take advantage of the more favorable playing field by finding more uses of QR code technology. Target for one has announced a new Q code-based payments system to scan offers directly to their device-stored payment cards, which can be scanned at checkout for instant payment.
Expect similar activity in loyalty cards, making their redemption easier for everyone.
The newly revived fortunes of QR codes remind us that sometimes there are second acts for MarComm tactics and technology – and maybe it happens more often than we expect.