QR Codes: Their Past, Present, and Fiery Future

The Hot Topic

No, not the punk-goth store in the mall…we’re talking QR codes, the hottest trend of 2020, largely in part due to Covid-19. You’ve probably seen them popping up everywhere, from packages, to signage, to billboards, menus, and payments. Their hands-free nature gave them quite the leg up when it came to the need for social distance this past year. But, before we jump into their rise, let’s take a look at their beginnings.

The QR Story

Quick Response Codes (QRs) were created in 1994 by a Japanese auto parts company who used them as an alternative to barcodes to tag and track parts in their auto factory. They got their name because of how quickly and easily they could be scanned to deliver information – hence, quick response. As the code evolved, the transferred media became more informational – coupons, landing pages, websites, videos, interactive advertisements, and even menus became the norm. Now we know them as a code used by smart phones. Easily hover your camera over the code – and wa-la – media is rapidly transferred to you. But, even though the idea of QR codes was seemingly useful and intriguing, it didn’t catch as quick of a response (hah – see what we did there) as was expected. While everyone expected them to be a hit, they weren’t – not right off the bat, anyway.

Many companies tried to implement them into their signs, billboards, and other parts of their marketing campaigns, but consumers didn’t seem to see them as easier than simply googling their needed information. They didn’t have time to stop, scan, hope that the scan worked correctly, and wait for the information to load. And, “most advertisements with QR codes (didn’t) answer the question in their prospects mind of ‘What is in it for me?’”. Often ads and billboards using QR codes didn’t tell enough of the story to entice the viewer, or, if the marketing piece also included a URL, users would inevitably type the URL into google instead of taking the extra step to scan the QR. And, maybe most importantly, when QR codes were first introduced, many smartphones didn’t have the innate capability to read them, limiting their audience.

QR for Connection & Transaction

Although marketing companies didn’t get much bang for their buck with QR codes, there were some companies that did find them rather useful – specifically when it came to messaging applications. Apps like Snapchat, BBM, and Messenger implemented them to quickly connect people “without giving away their personal information”. Payment apps and digital wallets also utilized QRs as a transactional payment method, yet not as much as today…

The Rise of QR in 2020

We didn’t see them as often before, but now QR codes are suddenly everywhere. “From touchless payment to restaurant menus, the QR code (now with sufficient integrated technology in every smartphone to support it) has made a major resurgence in a time where we’re afraid to touch anything”. We’re suddenly seeing them pop up everywhere due to the high need of distanced exchanges, from touchless payments to interaction-less transfer of information, such as coupons, tickets, and menus.

QRs are finally having their moment. They’re hot and fresh out of the oven even if they’ve been sitting in the freezer for a while just waiting to be eaten up. Here are some benefits to show you why they’re so heavily consumed in current marketing:

  • Call to Actions: QR codes can bring consumers to specific pages that are most effective in lead generation. Use them as a path to email, call, buy, or submit information. Even better – marketers can estimate sales revenue based on these scans and clicks.
  • SEO: QRs can increase both your social media and SEO, generating higher website traffic and social sharing.
  • No Wait: Companies can use QR codes to show customers that they care about their time and energy. They don’t need to wait long – or at all – to acquire more information, services, or special offers.
  • Inexpensive: QR code generation is free, with tons of creation sites to choose from. They don’t require a designer or technical hire to make and use them.
  • Promotes Networking: QR codes can be used to lead customers to “like” buttons and social pages.
  • Creative: QRs don’t have to be black and white and boring like regular barcodes. Use them to paint a picture (literally and figuratively) of your brand.

How Can My Pizza Shop Use QRs?

Now that they’re in their heyday, consumers can use them with ease, and customers are used to seeing them, there are ample ways you can implement QR codes into your marketing materials and media. Put them on offline media, like flyers, mailers, menus, posters, and brochures to lead your customers where you want them to go. Use them to highlight product details, contact information, offers, events, social competitions, coupons…you name it!

QR codes have the ability to store so much more data than other modes, such as text, links, coordinates, etc. and are so easily used by any current consumer with just a scan of their cell phone – so there’s really no reason (anymore) not to make the most of them. And, like we said, they’re easy to create.

Based on a recent survey, a total of 11 million households will scan a QR code by the end of 2021. Compare this to 9.76 million in 2018 – and see the growth in millions year over year. Don’t lag behind. Stay relevant, trendy, and most importantly right now – safe.

Ready to start incorporating QR codes into your next direct mail campaign? Visit ZaHub or contact us to get started – quickly!