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October 2012

Print in the Mix

QR Code Scans Not Giving Consumers What They Want

QR Codes "have not fulfilled their promise and connected with large audiences," according to a recent report from marketing research and analysis resource, eMarketer.

eMarketer projects U.S. adult smartphone penetration will grow from 43.9 percent in 2011 to 58.3 percent by 2014, reaching nearly 38.6 million adults by 2014. During this time, the percentage of smartphone users who will have scanned a UPC or 2D barcode (QR, Microsoft Tag, JAGTAG, etc.) is projected to reach 27 percent.

Yet, while the percentage of U.S. smartphone users grows steadily and the use of mobile barcodes in marketers' strategy increases, eMarketer points to a disconnect between what consumers want from their scanning experience and what they receive, often making for "one and done" users. Citing data from mobile payments and marketing company Mobio, the 60 percent of North American consumers who scanned QR Codes in Q3 2011 did so just once.

"What consumers want from their 2D barcode experience and what brands deliver are typically at odds," says eMarketer. "Consumers want deals and discounts. Brands want to deliver information." In a Chadwick Martin Bailey survey in October 2011, the majority of respondents (43 percent) were strongly interested in discounts via scans, backing up eMarketer's analysis.

Types of Desired Content Sought by Individuals Opting to Scan a QR Code
QR Code Scan Action Desired — % of Respondents
Gain access to discounts/coupons/free items — 43 percent
Gain more information about a product/service — 26 percent
Gain access to exclusive content — 25 percent
Make a purchase or buy something — 23 percent
Get more information about an event — 22 percent
Get more information aout a brand/company — 18 percent
Note: Respondents who chose eight to 10 on a 10-point scale.

eMarketer finds that "marketers seem more focused on delivering brand messaging or on list-building."

A September survey by the Association of Strategic Marketing of U.S. marketers who used QR Codes found that two-thirds of the codes delivered product information, while less than one-quarter delivered discounts.

To read the entire Print in the Mix Fast Fact and other print market research studies, go to Print in the Mix is a free and easily accessible clearinghouse of research on print media effectiveness, published by the Printing Industry Center at RIT and made possible by a grant from The Print Council ( Also, visit The Print Council Resource Center for additional studies, papers and video content.



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