The rise of QR codes



QR codes – those small squares of black and white that look like a 3D eye puzzle, are actually advanced barcodes that first appeared in 90s in the Japanese motor industry.

In more recent times we associate them with codes that employ our mobile phones to connect the real world to the virtual world for us. This is typically via scanning a piece of physical advertising, containing a QR code, and being directed to a business home page, a product information page or a shopping portal. This is all without having to type in a URL.

I’ve brought this topic up simply because I’ve seen more and more QR codes appearing on products and advertising here in NZ. From the examples in the photo below to the Sunday Herald being littered with QR codes, linking readers to more online article content.

photo (1)

A collection of items of my desk yielded three items with QR codes: the packaging of a newly purchased moleskin notebook, a entry pamphlet for a competition from countdown and an article in the Health 2000 brochure.

The best QR code strategies are those that induce a behaviour in the consumer  that leads them to purchase a good or service or participate in its further promotion. Even better are those QR codes that are part of or enable the ‘human experience’ (There is a good HBR article on the human experience in the March ‘13 issue). A couple of good examples I have seen this are:

  • Meeting people over a beer and a QR code. A bar in Singapore has doubled its beer sales by allowing its patrons to send messages on a bottle to start a conversation (REF).
  • Embedded videos on Father’s Day gifts. Diageo introduced whiskey bottles that allow buyers to send video messages with the bottles as part of a Father’s Day gift (REF).
  • Using QR codes to undress Victoria’s Secret supermodels (REF)

While QR codes are a neat piece of technology are they actually being scanned or are they just a tool for associating a brand or product with technological sophistication? I’m not convinced either way yet. Possibly because I haven’t seen/ heard them being used to amazing effect in NZ. However, apparently 5% of US adults scan 2D codes, up from 1% in 2010 (REF).

Let me know if you’ve come across any good examples of how QR codes have been used well or if you’ve got some interesting adoption stats.


2 responses to “The rise of QR codes

  1. Hey Graham

    We believe (as do a lot of our stakeholders) that QR codes, when used uniquely and in a secure manner, are a fantastic security device as well as a way to identify & track individual packages. This is a much deeper level of granularity than say, barcodes for SKUs or batches.



  2. Sorry – by we I mean Genuee of 🙂

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