Are brands finally wearing down consumers with QR codes? After many years of plugging away at them, the latest data form Comscore on EU5 suggests that smartphone owners are beginning to scan them. In the UK, for example it is around 3 million people. Pretty good, but still little over 10% of smartphone users. However, compare that to some of the other most used functions – daily web browsing 82%, social media access 81%, YouTube viewing 92% (UK figures from Our Mobile Planet). QR codes are far from mass media.
QR codes can be useful, however many brands use them poorly and there is far to go. Econsultancy has suggested that the Comscore figure is under-represented, who found that 19% of UK users had scanned codes. One clear piece of data, though, is the rise in QR scanning. Besides awareness, high levels of smartphone adoption are probably helping to drive the activity.
Delhaize, the Belgian supermarket brand has joined a growing list of brands, such as Tesco Home Plus in Korea, PayPal in Singapore and John Lewis in the UK, who have created a virtual shop.
The retailer has put product posters in the Brussels Metro with the call to action ‘Start your shopping here’. Users can scan the barcode (rather than a QR code) using the Delhaize iPhone or Android app to add to their basket. However, in a new take on the virtual store concept, users select the supermarket and time that they want to collect their shopping. When they turn up at the retailer, everything is packed, ready to take home.
As one of the first retailers to create a more virtual shopping experience in Korea, Tesco have been ahead of the curve. They have just launched an F&F pop-up shop for the Jubilee in London’s Covent Garden, which will be open until the end of the Jubilee weekend. Users can try on clothes in the store, but can’t take them home there and then. That’s because the shop has no tills. Instead, users scan a QR code and pay through their online site for collection the following day from the nearby Tescos or home delivery in 2-3 days. Alternatively, there are iPad pay points, which customers can to make their purchases.
This is a question I am often asked by people who don’t work in advertising agencies (ad agencies like to assume that most people do scan codes). The answer to that question is … well, it depends. Or if you want to put a figure on that, it’s 14.5% of Smartphone users in Europe scan QR codes, according to comscore. That’s not a lot of people (say, 7% of the population), but it appears to be growing. I have blogged extensively about how and when codes should be used, but an interesting set of stats from the research company confirm that print – magazines and newspapers – is the most used media (50% of scans). Next most used was packaging at 38% and websites (strangely) at just under 29% of scans.
As with any technology, QR has it’s place (it’s place seems to be in print and packaging) and both the engagement and audience must be correct. I have conveniently split some examples into QR Fail and QR Success on Pinterest if you want to see how best to use them or see the comscore stats for more info.
Perhaps it isn’t the most original of uses, but here’s an example of QR being used well. This is a point of sale display for a molecular cooking set (yes, thanks to the Heston Blumenthal influence they really do make these). I have previously blogged about the need to get the context, engagement and targeting right for QR. This meets all those requirements.
The QR code is used is nice and large, on a high contrast background. There’s plenty of dwell time as it’s in the kitchen department of Selfridges where people spend plenty of time. The engagement is pretty good, as it links to a useful video to explain how this new product works. It’s also well targeted. Those interested in molecular cooking are likely to be techie, probably have smartphones and will probably bother to scan the code.
Now that smartphones are becoming ubiquitous, there is plenty of evidence that consumers are using their devices to check prices, availability and other information. Many retailers and retail brands are missing out as they are largely failing to engage with these users. This is an example of how that engagement could be done.
Following the much touted success of Tesco Korea’s Homeplus service, PayPal have followed suit by launching a similar effort in Singapore. The pilot scheme takes advantage of the WiFi in Singapore’s subways, not to mention the 70% smartphone penetration that the country enjoys. The company explained their ambitions in a recent blog post. Although QR has generally been poorly received by consumers, and badly implemented by brands, Tesco set a precedent by using the technology to deliver their service to a very tech-savvy and connected audience. Maybe PayPal will manage the same thing in Singapore …
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The innovative campaign from Isobar Mobile and out of home agency, Posterscope makes clever use of outdoor, QR codes, HTML5 and Facebook’s api to create an engaging mobile-based experience. With the posters appearing in over 300 sites around the UK, it is a great demonstration of how mobile can bring together different media to create one engaging campaign. You can either find Frankie PI by scanning the code on the posters, via Twitter #Frankiepi_14, or alternatively simply point your mobile browser to doesheluv.me or doessheluv.me .