The Rise and Fall of QR Code

Do you still remember the hype over Quick Response (QR) codes? Some time ago, many marketing officers are so eager to jump onto the QR code bandwagon. Imagine the coolness and trendiness of using the QR code in your marketing campaign; and all the prospects need to do, is to scan the QR code in your advertisements with their smart phones and then ‘voila!’ the prospects will then get your marketing message!

This “keeping up with the Joneses” QR code frenzy had become so strong that suddenly, you see that almost every company, big or small, has their own QR code. Suddenly everyone is putting QR codes in their name cards, websites, brochures, TV commercials and so on. Suddenly, many QR code media gurus sprout up from nowhere, charging sky towering consultancy and design fees to innocent and desperate marketing managers.

The "QR Code" room in Hotel Modez, Netherlands
The “QR Code” room in Hotel Modez, Netherlands

However, as time goes by, you will also start to see that the trend of QR code begins to fade. Big brands, who are once so aggressively marketing their QR codes on TV and print media, are seen withdrawing from this frenzy.  Traditional marketers also start to blame the consultants for painting the good pictures about these ineffective QR codes.

Brands start to see that QR codes are not realistic nor does it make any sense to their marketing strategies. Unfortunately, most of them only begin to see the ineffectiveness of QR code after spending millions of marketing dollars on it.

It is not about how good companies are, at using technologies such as QR code; it is simply about understanding the customer better and how your marketing strategies will make sense to them. That is it.

Jacky Tan 

Marketers today need to think and analyse whether new or existing marketing or advertising strategies make sense and work for their brands. The new smart marketer does not blindly follow new trends or new methods of advertising, and hence avoid wasting time and marketing dollars.

Marketers need to think realistically, whether such strategy will work for the smart consumer today and how to be different and better from their competitors?

reality check ahead

One way to analyse the effectiveness of an advertising medium is to observe public consumer behavior  If QR code is a very successful advertising medium to many brands, you would definitely see people crowding around an ad banner to scan the QR code.

My disclaimer

However, to declare that QR code is totally outdated, may be unfair to some marketers who are using QR code effectively in their marketing strategies.  Moreover, consumer behavior works differently in various countries as well. For example, QR code does work quite well in countries such as Japan especially in their F&B sectors.

By scanning the QR code on the sushi, you will know which fishery port the fish is from. Cool, right?
By scanning the QR code on the sushi, you will know which fishery port the fish is from. Cool, right?

Hence, it is all about understanding how smart consumers think, and whether or not our marketing strategies can work for them or not.

[This article is extracted from Jacky Tan’s book, Social Smart – Social Media Marketing to the Smart Consumer.”]