Quick response (QR) codes are rapidly becoming ubiquitous. Marketers have displayed them in print ads, direct mail pieces, and stores. But do consumers know what they’re supposed to be doing with these codes?

Earlier this fall, we reported on QR code user statistics released by comScore. In June, about 14 million U.S. adults scanned a QR code, and these were largely young men. Another report just published by Russell Herder confirms that over 75% of consumers between the ages of 18-24 have seen a QR code. That number drops to about 55% for consumers over age 55. In addition, about 24% of consumers between the ages of 18-24 have scanned a code with their mobile phones, the highest rate of any age group.

But marketer enthusiasm for these codes might change when they realize consumers have had a lukewarm response to the technology. When asked if they feel that clicking on a QC code was a worthwhile effort, here’s how consumers answered:

  • Always 3%
  • Usually 28%
  • Sometimes 52%
  • Rarely 15%
  • Never 2%

Russell Herder points out that marketers are asking a lot of consumers when they use QR codes. The consumer must download the scanning app, scan the code, and then view the SMS text message or visit the website to learn what the marketer wants to tell them. Because of the way the technology works, placing QR codes on TV ads or on roadside billboards will likely not yield results. Herder advises marketers to consider their QR code strategy to improve consumer perceptions of this format. To make their QR codes stand out, marketers could offer a channel-specific promotion. They could also place them where consumers will have enough time to engage such as in a printed newspaper, or modify the appearance of the codes to display a variety of shapes.

Herder cautions marketers to think about the best way to include QR codes in their campaigns instead of using them just because they are available. For QR codes to become more successful, consumers may need a little more education or incentive from marketers.

[Source: The QR Question. RussellHerder.com. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2011]