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QR Codes – How savvy are consumers?

Around the office we’ve been talking about creative ways to use QR codes in marketing campaigns for the last several months. It seems to be the current “it” marketing tool. At least, there has been a lot of talk among digital marketing professionals about Quick Response codes as a new interactive marketing tactic. But, how savvy are consumers really? If they see a QR code in a brochure or advertisement, what are the chances they will know what to do? And if they do know to scan the QR code, what are the chances that they will actually go ahead and scan the code?

I have been weary of fully embracing QR codes, at least for the American public, because I’m not entirely convinced that consumers are aware, or motivated, enough to use them. However, a couple of articles I’ve seen recently seem to show an upward trending recognition of QR codes as a marketing tool, and I’m beginning to think maybe I’ve been underestimating the American audience.

Last week, CNN published an article, Marketers embracing QR codes, for better or worse, that showcased examples of U.S. brands utilizing QR codes, namely Tag Heuer and New York City emergency services. At the end of the article, they referenced a recent QR code survey conducted by Baltimore-based marketing agency MGH of 415 smartphone users.

Key findings of the MGH survey: “Thirty two percent of respondents said they’ve used a QR code, and 70 percent said they plan to use a QR code again or for the first time. For both those that have used one and those that plan to use one, the top motivator in scanning a code is to secure a coupon or discount (53 percent and 87 percent, respectively). The survey also found that an astonishing 72 percent of smartphone users would be likely to recall an ad with a QR code.

That last line is the one that really grabbed my attention.

Then, this morning I noticed an email from eMarketer with the headline Surprising Familiarity with QR Codes, that breaks down the demographics of people who have scanned a QR Code and their reasons for doing so. They basically looked more deeply into the results of the MGH survey than CNN did.

QR Code Users' Demographic Information

Demographics of QR Code Users

QR Code Reasons for Using

Why Consumers use QR Codes

So, what do you think? Is America ready to embrace the use of QR codes? Would you?

Written on April 04, 2011, by