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Brands still failing to capitalise on the potential of QR codes

25 September 2012

  • Only one in five consumers in the UK has ever used one
  • Brands are particularly struggling to engage women and seniors

London, 25th September 2012 – Although QR codes are now noticed by the vast majority of consumers in the UK, research by consumer experts Canadean Consumer shows that they are still failing to win over the population. A study of 2,000 consumers has revealed that only 17% have EVER bothered to scan one.

It seems as though QR codes have been heralded as the next frontier of marketing for years. But research from Canadean Consumer shows that they are still barely used. Despite nine in 10 having noticed them – and 22% of consumers claiming to see them on packaging “regularly” – fewer than one in five has ever scanned them using their phone.

As perhaps can be expected, younger consumers are more likely to have trialled QR codes: 30% of 25-34 year olds have, making them the most active age group. However, brands are singularly failing to engage older consumers – only 13% of consumers aged 45 or above have used them – a damning figure considering the buying power of this demographic and its recent surge in smartphone ownership.

There is also a notable discrepancy between males and females – women notice them more (23% see them “regularly” compared to 20% of males) but use them far less (just 16%, compared to 24% of men).

Geographically, consumers are most engaged in London – 30% of Londoners have used them – but Mark Whalley, lead consultant at Canadean Consumer, says that this number can rise significantly if the much-awaited internet on the Underground materialises:

“The tube is an ideal spot for QR codes. Consumers are surrounded by adverts in newspapers and the tube itself. However, until there is widespread internet access down there so QR codes can work instantly, this represents a black hole of opportunity.”

“It would be foolish to write off QR codes as an idea that simply doesn’t work, because we’ve seen in markets like Japan that they can. However, the situation will not change until brands make a conscious effort to educate the consumer as to how to use the codes and – more importantly – why they need to. As far as shopping is concerned, the internet still used for product reviews and price comparisons. Consumers do not know what benefits there are to be gained from scanning a QR code. They’ve not yet been convinced of a reason to do so.”

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