Do You Really Need a QR Code?

Even if you don’t know what they are, you’ve no doubt seen quick response (QR) codes in print advertising and other places. QR codes are the next iteration of bar codes and look like a small white square that is populated with a seemingly random group of interconnected tiny black squares and rectangles.

Take a picture of the QR code with a properly equipped smart phone and you will have quick access to a website giving more information about the ad’s content.

But there is a problem with QR codes: consumer usage is low. According to a Forrester Research study, in a three-month window in 2011, only five percent of those surveyed scanned even one QR code. That’s not five percent for every code, but five percent of all codes combined. Hence, the reasonable assumption could be made that some codes are seldom or even never scanned at all.

The reasons are many: Some people don’t know what QR codes are. Others are confused in how to use them. A third group lacks the needed technology (be it the smart phone or the requisite app), but most just ignore them.

Add to this that the Web page the QR code lands on is often not optimized for mobile devices.

Although QR code usage is sure to grow in the future as these problems are addressed and overcome, there certainly doesn’t seem to be an imperative need to include them in your ads today — but just don’t dismiss them forever.