Dad and Junior were walking through a store, when the little rascal noticed a large, colorful poster with his favorite cartoon characters. In awe, Junior refused to move from the spot. Seeing a QR code in the bottom corner of the poster, Dad breathes a sigh of relief.
Dad: “Look, Junior, this thing here is called a QR code, stands for Quick Response. I can scan it with my smartphone and it will link us to some really cool stuff.”
Junior excitedly: “Awesome, do it dad!”
Dad reaches to his pocket, pulls out his phone, and kneels down on the floor to better access the code, snaps a photo and…nothing happens.
Junior curiously: “Got it, yet?”
Dad scavenges through the mobile web search engine to find out about scanning QR codes, and finds out he needs to first download a special mobile app. At least, it is free.
Junior impatiently: “What’s taking so long?”
Dad victoriously opens up the new app, scans the code and triumphantly hands his phone to Junior.
Junior looks up in disappointment: “It’s just a webpage of the cartoon, where’s the surprise?”
Dad studies the phone in silent hope of finding an engaging activity, mobile video or at least a coupon.
Junior: “Dad? Why is it called quick response? It took forever.”
Dad after an awkwardly long pause: “Want to get some ice cream?”
Dad and Junior have just joined the 21% of Americans who have successfully scanned a QR code at least once in their lives. But their experience quite honestly sums up the reality of QR codes: an ingenious idea with excellent potential stumbling along through widespread misuse and technical hick-ups.
QR stands for Quick Response and it is a “trademark name for a two dimensional bar code.” It has been developed by a Japanese Toyota plant to track the manufacturing process quickly and efficiently. The developers have made their invention freely accessible to the technical world and soon, marketers in all areas have begun to explore the various ways QR codes can be beneficial to their business.
Pros and Cons
QR codes are easy to create and potentially easy to use. They are cost efficient and can be employed in a range of settings, from regular printed material to TV shows. The QR technology is capable of ushering a curious customer to desirable online content, while it can also provide the marketers and businesses with valuable feedback on customer behavior. QR codes usage is really only limited by human imagination and can already be seen in an array of locales, from restaurants to classrooms, offices to tourist trails.
However, there are many drawbacks as well. These most often result from the misuse of the QR codes by technology eager, but not so savvy businesses and customers alike. The scanning of QR codes requires a special mobile app, which limits the percentage of people, who will actually take the time of their day to go through the process only to try out the actual code. Also, too often, users do not get the informational and economic value in return to using a QR code as most companies fail to provide a meaningful and rewarding reason for scanning. The procedure itself regularly takes a lot longer than expected and too many QR codes are presented in places and ways that make it impossible to scan successfully, i.e. alongside roads, in short TV commercials, or in places with limited mobile connection.
Whether or not are we going to see more of QR codes in the future depends on several factors. Can the technological mishaps be smoothed down and can the users’ curiosity be reignited with worthwhile content? But most of all are there new and better technologies waiting around the corner ready to label the QR codes as unfashionable and obsolete?