Despite having been around for decades and receiving much media attention, QR codes never became the revolutionary mobile marketing tool that businesses and marketers had hoped. When Apple added native support QR code scanning in its iOS 11, the promise of the technology was renewed. This game-changing move allows QR codes to be scanned on Apple devices directly through the camera app. And the fact that the QR code feature is in the control settings enables ease of use. The latest Android smartphones have also made QR code scanning a native feature. This addresses the major barrier for QR code use in Western markets.
According to recent estimates from Juniper Research, the number of QR coupons redeemed via mobile devices will reach 5.3 billion by 2022. By contrast, coded coupons redeemed via mobile in 2017 approached about 1.3 billion, by Juniper’s count. What’s more, Juniper forecasts that more than 1 billion mobile devices will access coupons through QR codes by 2022. Clearly, the surge in use is being driven by built-in QR functionality on smartphones and most importantly Apple devices.
Brands, agencies and traditional marketers are finding innovative ways to utilize mobile bar codes as an effective means of passing product information in-store, bringing static ads to life and engaging with customers through contests or loyalty reward systems. This integration of offline, online and mobile allows marketers to provide a holistic experience to their customers. Let’s look at a few examples of what successful marketers are doing to optimize the print/mobile customer experience and maximize marketing spend.
Nike: Curating the Customer Experience
QR codes can be used at the store level to give shoppers experiential choices. Nike’s flagship store in New York City, called House of Innovation, uses QR codes all throughout the store to give NikePlus Members with the Nike app a truly unique experience. The Nike App features Shop the Look. Customers can go up to a store mannequin and use the Nike app to scan a QR code (on a printed sign) that will bring up its entire outfit. From there, a shopper can decide to buy any of the pieces the mannequin is wearing or have the items sent to a fitting room. Shoppers get a push notification when the items are ready telling them to head to a nearby fitting room, where there will be a sign with their name on it and the items waiting inside.
Amazon: Blending Digital and Physical Worlds
In addition, marketers are using QR codes in advertising. In Europe, Amazon has started placing QR code boxes that include its trademark smile logo into magazine advertisements, enabling Amazon mobile app users to scan the “SmileCode” to open Amazon product pages or other content on their phones. As Amazon increasingly blends the physical and digital worlds, it’s latest move is an attempt to make magazines shoppable. It will be an interesting test of the concept, and its success could mean as much, or more, to the publishers of major print magazines as it does to Amazon. While the content unlocked by the SmileCode could be a product page, it could also be a gateway to more messaging.
Optimizing the Print Mobile Experience
Big brands are focused on harnessing QR codes as a technique for engaging and converting consumers. They want to deliver a brand experience that engages the mobile-centric consumer. Amid a sea of marketing messages bombarding consumers every day, thoughtful and integrated marketing campaigns can cut through the clutter and give marketers confidence that their marketing dollars are being used wisely. Given the ease of use of QR codes, it is time for print service providers to look at print/mobile-optimized marketing campaigns to help marketers blend traditional and digital media. Print (signage, advertisements, packaging, magazines, catalogs, direct mailers, etc.) is an important mechanism for capturing attention and building awareness. Optimizing print and mobile with QR codes is a great way to combine media and actively engage customers.