QR codes are back and ready to hit it big
In today’s fickle media landscape, yesterday’s big joke can suddenly become today’s big trend. That could be the case with QR codes, if they are in fact making the comeback that some researchers are anticipating.
A study by Juniper concluded that QR code coupon redemption by mobile will experience a significant upswing in the next five years. Juniper anticipates the number of coupons redeemed via QR code to hit 5.3 billion by 2022, up from 1.3 billion in 2017.
QR codes began frequently appearing on movie posters and other promotional materials in the U.S. in the early part of the 2010’s alongside the mobile boom, providing what was intended as a quick way to point a mobile browser to a URL.
But the codes were not well-received. A satirical Tumblr page, called “Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes,” summed up the Millennial assessment of the technology. As of January 2018, the blog still features only a three-word punchline, dated February 29, 2012; it reads, “No posts yet.”
And in the years that followed, it became common to read about QR code failures. A marketer writing at AdAge, for instance, announced the death of QR codes in 2013, attributing it to the clunkiness of the process. Back then smartphone users had to take a clear picture of the code and run it through a separate app only to be pushed to a webpage via browser — in an era when mobile connectivity was not as assured as it is today.
Another article from 2012 on Gizmodo, bluntly titled “How QR Codes Work and Why They Suck So Hard,” added to the list of grievances the fact that marketers seemed to be pushing QR code use as an insincere sign of tech savviness.
But improved mobile connectivity may be helping to breathe new life into QR codes. And new use cases have emerged for them, too. For instance, in China the codes are being used as the key to getting in and out of that country’s first cashier-less automated grocery store, Bingobox.
- Juniper Research: Mobile QR Code Coupon Redemptions to Surge, Surpassing 5.3 Billion by 2022 – BusinessWire
- Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes – Tumblr
- How QR Codes Work and Why They Suck So Hard – Gizmodo
- Will other grocers beat Amazon Go to the punch? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will QR codes become as popular at retail as Juniper’s research suggests? How can retailers, brands and marketers make the best use of QR codes?