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.
Do people really scan QR codes?
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.
QR Drives Point of Sale
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.
PayPal does a Tesco’s Korea: shopping with QR
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 …
Classic QR fail from the Highways Agency
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, if you look at the enlarged version of this poster there’s a QR code at the bottom. Did they really think that whilst having a pee, someone would get out their smartphone and scan the code? What if I accidentally aimed the camera down a little bit much? How would I explain that photo to my partner! That aside, using your camera in a men’s toilet would probably get you arrested (I had to make sure the toilet was empty before I took this photo). Well done the Highways Agency, a government organisation. Oh, and the title of the poster? ‘Be Wise’. Something that clearly, they didn’t do when thinking about their QR code.
I’ll make an FOI request to find out how many people scanned the code. If you want to know how to do QR without getting your users arrested, then see my guide to the perfect QR campaign here.
Nicely Executed Campaign – Scandinavian Airlines Two For One
What’s Next for QR? Pizzas apparently!
Another Example of Creative Use of a QR Code
Here’s the problem. How do ad agencies find good digital creatives these days? German agency Sholtz and Friends decided that pizzas could provide the answer. Working with a pizza deliver company, Croque Master, they came up with the ‘Pizza Digitale’. Whenever someone from a rival agency ordered from the company, they were sent a complimentary pizza with a QR code imprinted in tomato sauce. Scanning the code took the user to Sholtz and Friend’s hiring page. Did it work? Well they got 12 applications out of it and hired two staff. When you consider how much it costs to go via a recruitment agency, that was a good result. It’s certainly not the first time someone has used food to create a QR code, but the company still got a nice bit of PR for the agency.
Of course with QR it’s all about getting the context, engagement and targeting right. Click here to find out how to deliver the perfect QR campaign.
Looking for more creative QR campaigns? This great campaign puts QR on cardboard to raise awareness and money for the homeless. You can find even more campaigns here on Mashable , or some creative QR examples here on Mobile Inc.
Ebay’s uses QR codes in their London pop-up store
Another example of why shops won’t be shops … Ebay uses QR to do a ‘Tesco Korea‘ …
What’s Next After QR Codes?
See new article, How to Make QR Codes Work in Advertising
Whilst QR codes haven’t exactly been a roaring success, other technologies are appearing that take the basic concept but add more engagement and interactivity. Essentially this is the next iteration of image recognition. Last year, technology company Kooaba showed of their app, which works on the basis of taking a picture, leading to more information. The obvious applications are in brand marketing and the company is focussed to these needs, including an API to integrate into their app. Last month, Royal Mail (yes, the people that occasionally deliver the post in the UK) showed off their Digital Watermarking scheme. Working with technology company Digital Space, they have created an iphone and Android app which provides enhanced information to users who hold their phone over an relevant image. Royal Mail’s interest in this technology is to offer a more exciting, engaging experience from direct mail.
The newest trend on the image recognition front is to combine it with augmented reality (AR). So far, AR on mobile has largely used location to overlay the image with additional information. With Image Recognition AR, you hold your camera over a picture and stuff happens in a virtual environment. Blippar, which was announced this week, showed off this technology in their video (below). They even got their app onto the UK TV news (no name check though) which is good going. They are calling it ‘Image Recognition Advertising’ which Blippar claim that this will make QR codes redundant. This seems to be a strange analogy. QR isn’t exactly universally understood in the way that apps, for example, have become. AR Image recognition actually offers much more than that, by providing a rich and interactive content.
Of course, as with any new technology the bit ‘if’ is that of consumer adoption. Will anyone actually use it? Mobile always works best when it taps into existing behaviours. We want to communicate, we want to play games, we want to shop, we want tools for an easier life. All these needs existed before the mobile phone, and technologies from SMS, to apps or the mobile web simply tap into this. Will the new image recognition apps meet those needs or will it be another technology that brands and marketers love, but most consumers just don’t get?
People are more likely to recall an ad with a QR code. Really?
Many people are publishing stats and figures about mobile. Sometimes they ring true: the growth of smartphones, the increase in mobile search or the fact that most consumers want discounts from brands, are things that all make sense. There is enough anecdotal evidence around to support that. Some figures, though just don’t fit with what’s around. The latest one that doesn’t add up is some US research that suggests that 72% of people recall an advert with a QR code on it. I know a bit about the US market and although QR codes are becoming more used, 72% recall sounds very high.
The study also gave some glowing results on consumers wanting to use QR codes (87% would use one for a discount or voucher). The study was produced by US marketing communications agency called MGH. Whilst it’s important to gain an understanding of consumers and how they will use technology, it’s even more important to generate accurate results. What was the sample demographic used for this study?
My understanding is that most consumers don’t know what a QR code is, and those that have tried it found it doesn’t work very well. The former is backed up by study from youth communications firm, Dubit who found that 72% (co-incidentally) of teenagers didn’t know what a QR code was. Just 43% identified that it was something to do with a mobile phone and only 17% had actually used one. This was a weighted sample of 11-18 year olds (in other words, representative of that age group across the whole population). Teenagers are a pretty tech-savvy group if you ask me. If QR was becoming mainstream then I would expect that group to know about them.
Whilst QR codes clearly have potential, there seems to be a widespread problem in brands and advertising agencies, who believe that the presence of these square pixels is enough to interest consumers and get engagement. But QR has not caught the public imagination. If it had, the demand for them would be insatiable. It will take much more effort on the part of advertisers if they want to create successful QR engagement.
The current issue of the DMA Mobile Council Newsletter has an in-depth look at QR. Or see my previous blog; The Problem with QR Codes. (Oh, and if you are bothered enough to use QR codes, the one on the right takes you to a report on the US reserach)