QR codes which got originated in japan have been used by marketers world-wide to reach out and interact with their customers. And, nowadays one can see QR codes in almost every medium- magazine, billboard, T-shirts, Roads, Body-parts, condoms etc. According to a comscore report in December 2011, 1 in every 5 smartphone owners in the U.S. scanned a QR code with their phone.
Globally brands have put QR codes to successful use and have generated a lot of eyeballs. So why these black and white colour codes have become a marketers hidden weapon. Simple they add interactivity to a static print medium and the black and white codes add to the consumer curiosity. Also QR codes are turning out to be the perfect marketing package — a brief, compact, message driver and an engagement tool — all loaded in one single code. Hence we have seen a lot of marketers falling in love with them. The below graph shows why consumers are scanning the QR code
Indian marketers too have joined this bandwagon. In fact the Google Trends report on QR Codes puts India among the Top 10 countries at No 9. So have the Indian marketers really cracked this black and white codes. Let’s look at few examples before we make any judgement.
To begin with let’s look at few Indian brands that are on the right track in successfully using QR codes
Shoppers Stop- The sale season is always a challenge for a brand to stand out and achieve the humongous sales target. And if you look across any newspaper you will see almost every brand advertising about the sales promo. So how did a brand like Shoppers Stop stood out. The solution was to use QR codes effectively and then start conversations with their customers and delight them in an interesting fashion. Shoppers Stop placed a QR code in the print ads and on scanning the QR code the user was asked to install an app called ‘Shoppers Stop secret’ and then see the magic.
With the help of this app, readers could trigger an augmented reality set-up in which they could view certain ‘secret offers’. These offers were not printed specifically in the newspaper ad, hence in order to see them one had to download the app. According to me one of the primary reasons it worked was these special offers delighted the consumers and justified their decision to use QR code and download the app.
Turquoise Cottage – Buddy Stamp
Here is another example on how Turquoise Cottage, a popular bar in New Delhi, used QR codes on Christmas eve to show their customers and patrons that they care and ensured that their customers had a nice experience in the bar, reached home safely, and also hangover remedies the next day.
Now let’s look at some of the big marketers who have failed miserably with their QR code campaign
Kit Kat one of the biggest brand in the world went horribly wrong in their usage of QR code. Kit Kat had come out with this print ads to promote their new campaign. Now one of the reasons why QR code have been a hit among the users is the curiosity to see what’s going to be there once they scan those black and white codes. And kit Kat did exactly the opposite and told user to scan it and watch their television ad. Something which a consumer must have already seen on TV.
Infosys: Infosys is a brand which regularly advertises on Times Ascent page so that it remains as a top brand to work for the tech community. Now if look at this ad, they have a very lengthy copy and then a lot of instructions on how to apply at Infosys. They have also tried to place a QR code in the middle of all the instructions. And if one scans the QR code it takes the user to the job application page on their website. I personally think it’s an idea poorly executed. There are already enough instructions on job application mentioned in the print ad. So what’s the purpose of a user scanning the QR code and then landing on the application page? Thought Infosys could have shown the user a video which could either be about why Infosys is a good place to work or testimonials of employees who have worked with Infosys.
Another brand which I think so has gone totally wrong with the usage of QR code. If one scans the QR code it takes them to the company’s website. Also if we look at the ad clearly they have also mentioned company’s website too. Total waste of the print ad space and definitely a lot of dissatisfied users
Like seen above a lot of Indian brands have started using QR codes. Few of them have done it right but a lot of them just do it so that they can be seen among those elite list of brands who are masters of technology. But they need to understand that just placing a QR codes with the link to the website or their TVC will not be helpful. And for the end user there is nothing special for him. And in fact more frustration of going through the entire process of scanning the QR code and getting negative results. Personally I think QR codes are a good starting point for engaging and starting conversation with the users. But what is more important is the end result that the consumers are getting after scanning the QR code. Otherwise it will be a waste of ad space and more importantly consumers precious time.