I read an article a little while ago stating that QR Codes are now old fashioned advertising and that new technologies have surpassed them. I am not inclined to agree as yes it is actually quite an old technology, better forms of printing and more intuitive code locations have helped QR Codes prolong their advertising right. Big companies like SportsDirect.com are still using QR Codes which indicates that it must be working for them as they would definitely not be using them if they are not adding value.
To put it very simply, a QR Code is the strange square image which often looks like the display that old analog televisions displayed if your TV aerial was not aligned correctly i.e lots of random little blocks in a square. The image at the top of this post is the QR Code for this site. For more info on QR Code, read this QR Code Explanation on Wikipedia.
QR Codes have been prominent in the world of advertising as they can entice the customer to interact more with the product they have purchased or intend to purchase. You may have noted that they are not solely found on consumables as I have seen them on white work vans, electronics pretty much on every type of commodity. In my opinion I think there is still life in pursuing the QR Code route, they can easily be incorporated in soft advertising. Particularly in stores or shops where there is often time spent inside by the consumer, be it waiting in a queue or by simply browsing. In a post I wrote on Coffee Shop marketing “CLICK HERE to read more” In that article I mention that subtle marketing tactics are in for the long haul and that “loud” advertising can be effective depending on market niche but interaction and situations where consumers can associate with the advertising can enhance the relationship. I have to iterate that large advertising is a must particularly if you are competing in flooded consumables market as you have to be seen to be remembered. This is why Coca Cola and L’Oreal adverts are still prominent on our screens.
Subtle marketing through the use of QR Codes can really be a key factor in enhancing the seller to buyer relationship. Before you make the purchase in a coffee shop, you imagine spending your valuable time sipping on your cappuccino or Chai latte whilst your rear end is sinking into the comfortable seating provided, if only you had something interesting to read. As the seller, why not provide the customer with a free short story to read via a QR Code? Once implemented this interaction has many outcome branches to it:
“What is this…thing?”
“What do I do with it?”
Or possibly…more hopefully:
“What is this QR Code for?” followed by “Brilliant, I wanted something to read!”
Going with the first scenario: What if the customer does not know what a QR Code is?
A simple description next to the QR Code may help, the opportunity to “push “a recommended app. This also brings the opportunity to develop a business to business relationship, possibly a bargaining lever whereby the app gets advertising in the shop and the shop on the app. Quite a few possibilities but to maintain a line of sight for this post the emphasis is on the business to consumer relationship.
Why the bother with a QR Code though as we could just leave books or pamphlets to read?
Straight away the most obvious answer is future proofing the concept as there are quite a few possibilities. We humans love our phones, we even use them whilst standing in a queue (mentioned in the Coffee Shop post). With pamphlets there are not only printing costs but how effective are they in enticing the consumer? I have not done a study but I do know that individuals usually pick it up and put it back down sometimes without even reading it. The key element and as mentioned previously it is the aim to get interaction.
A little mention above the QR code with something like:
Here, have this book on the house.
Even if that book was only a short story it creates curiosity as the consumer does not actually know what they are getting. Its also exciting as its free. I must add that providing the option of a free book may not be viable for all coffee shops as there will be some sort of expense, let’s not kid ourselves.
Again all of the above may provide you with another possible weapon in your advertising arsenal.