Technology and Innovation User Experience

QR Codes and users: a love-hate relationship

I am everywhere, but you don’t necessary pay attention to me. I am on your favorite product packaging, on your medication when you’re sick and also on your business card to directly register your contact details. You see me everyday, but you never use me. Who am I? QR Code of course!

The Quick Responsive Cod e (QR Code) is a black and white square barcode in two dimensions, easy to use. QR Code emerged as the fastest solution for passing on information and advertising it. The original idea was brilliant: you scan a code and you recover all the information it contains. Among the advantages of it, we had the simplicity of setting it up, transposing it on any support (magazine, commercials, posters, even on t-shirts or bracelets) and being able to read it with any smartphones.

Created in 1994 by the Japanese company named Denso-Wave, many of us think that this technology is still an innovation that must prove itself. Actually, it has been here for over 20 years and is used worldwide.

Granted, all geeks are convinced that QR Codes are very promising but there is one small problem… No one uses them. Is the QR code really dead in France?

First of all, to scan a code in France you need to download a code reader application: here is our biggest barrier to their use. In the USA or Japan, code reader is directly installed into your phone or integrated with social networks app. Fabulous.

We must not loose sight of the value of the results should always be related to the level of effort required by users. On this basis, there is an inconsistency between our scan and the landing page. The message must be an ongoing communication and the landing pages must be mobile sensitive. It may sound crazy but it’s not necessarily the case in the hexagon!

Consumers always think « Tell me something that I don’t know! ».  What’s the interest for a code if you enter the URL link faster than scanning the code? None.

Security is nowadays one of the biggest priority of the digital transformation: code can be unlimited generated, as it is an open platform, you can encode whatever you like. Basically, nobody can control its content and there isn’t monitoring centre to check. Horrible for some but terrific for others. You can choose your side!

Whereas QR Codes are ignored by French (European?) users, Asians are using them by the millions on a daily basis. QR Codes are Mickey Mouse in Europe and all powerful in Asia. In 2010, Japanese have scanned more codes that they have sent text messages. In 2015, we have counted more than 9 billion scan in China. Always ahead of mobile usage, Asia could teach us many tips on the art of using it. HSBC, Walt Disney or Frisk… They all created custom code to attract the consumer’s eye on public places no matter their age, gender and relationship to technology. As the result, 90% of Japanese housewives have already scanned a QR Code (source: MMD Research Institute), and they are not known for being comfortable with new technologies as the “digital native/ Millennial”.

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Disney Japan Success Case: How to make QR Code beautiful

What’s even more shocking in these campaigns is that no user guide is provided. The advertiser assumes all users know the way to scan it. How absolutely right they do! QR Code is part of their education and habits.

At its launch in 2006, DoCoMo, Japan’s largest telecom player, invested in a televised major campaign to introduce this new technology. This campaign was a huge success; the Telecom giant had managed to educate its consumers by putting himself into their shoes. In China, Alibaba Group, Chinese e-commerce leader, is investing $6 million in QR Code Company Visualead to fight against counterfeit products.

Not so far behind, France is still in the race! While QR Codes were deemed dead in 2012 by Digital Experts. How funny it is when you realize that QR Code had been introduced barely a year before, that is in 2011. The scanner gesture is perhaps not yet inked into our society but survey’s results are enough to make blush the referents country in new digital technologies. Despite the bad press, 80% of the population already know them and 54% used them occasionally to often (Source: SNCD – “Mobile Marketing Attitude”).

 

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In France, 58% of French people who are equipped with a smartphone and 90% for the age group of 18-24 years. QR Codes prove to be a powerful marketing tool that we must stop considering as a gadget. The black and white square is a good and cheap way to make mobile marketing campaigns. Besides, technological improvements allow integration in virtual reality or establish itself as a reliable and secure payment method. Even our social networks (Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp) have capitalized on it by now offering to scan the code of a person to automatically add contacts.

According to Experian in 2013, 95% of US advertisers assessed an increase of their mobile marketing strategy efficiency through QR codes. On the other side of the Atlantic, TNS Sofres defined them as a “performance booster” to the height of 64% for the traditional press.

QR Codes have thus proved their efficiencies, one thing still needs to be done: defining the right use and adapt them to the French market. The main objective is to educate and build your audience by offering rich content. Having long suffered from its “outdated” image, the race to success is now launched. Many companies are betting on it for their digital transformation! Making instantly online-shopping instantly, creating a community, tracking a product or wining discount coupons, everything is possible with a QR code. It is a varied marketing tool that allows to interact easily with customers and offer a new user experience.

That’s it, you are now an expert ! Ready to use it?  

Scan me if you can 😉

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@atranois

About the author

Amélie TRANOIS

Amélie TRANOIS

Project manager at DroptheCode, specialized in Qr Code and passionate about digital innovation.

> Twitter : @atranois
> LinkedIn : https://fr.linkedin.com/in/atranois
> http://www.dropthecode.com/
> Project Management, International (Europe, China, Mexico, India), Content Marketing and lolcat

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