Taking a step back, QR codes (which actually means “quick response” codes) were first created by the automotive industry in Japan back in 1994. Somewhere around two to three years ago in the United States, these strange looking squares became the talk of the town and started appearing everywhere; on t-shirts, outdoor ads, food labels etc…
The idea was kind of simple: we now had an easy way to connect the offline world to the online world with a mere scan using our smart phones. At that time new technologies were making people addicted to it, and then, we had more than 50% of the USA people using a smartphone.
At the beginning, it wasn’t until more recently the Quick Response codes shifted from being used primarily for tracking vehicles in manufacturing to being present in our everyday lives, from magazines and billboards, to subway stations, and even condom packaging. Don’t be ashamed, you know it.
In June 2011 14 million U.S smartphone users scanned a QR code. Impressive, right ? Not so much when you look at the fact that, at the end of July, 82.2 millions Americans owned smartphones. That’s only 17 percent of smartphone users scanning a QR code. But how many actually used QR codes on a regular basis? How many have actually scanned more than once? How many still have the app on their phone that lets them scan the code?
Out of those that still scan repeatedly, only half “sometimes” feel they have received something of value for their efforts. So at the end of the day, what’s the point?
So the big question is: what’s wrong with QR codes? Why are they dying so fast?
Actually, it is meanly because QR codes aren’t used correctly by businesses. All too often, QR codes are popping up in the most obscure places. There’s even a website dedicated to showcasing some of the most absurd QR codes found around the world… Thanks to Internet, people are feeling more critical and will now never hesitate depreciating brands, new projects, ideas, or anything else. When the codes are placed on the side of a moving tractor trailer, are you really reaching your target audience? Another issue businesses employing QR codes are failing to consider: what should the QR code be directing the consumer to? If the content isn’t helpful, isn’t mobile friendly, or wherever they’re scanning from doesn’t tell them what the QR code will take them to, what motivation would a smartphone user have to scan away?
Finally, after locating a QR code, by the time users take out their phone, make sure their app to scan is up-to-date, scan the code, and wait for the page to load, their attention span is lost. They just think they wasted some time, and as a result, they will never do it again. Their mind has already moved on to checking their Facebook, updating their Twitter, or even texting their mom…