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QR Codes Not Giving Consumers What They Want


July 17, 2012 -- QR codes “have not fulfilled their promise and connected with large audiences,” according to the eMarketer report, QR Codes: Marketers Keep Hitting 'Go,' but Consumer Adoption Still Slow.

eMarketer projects U.S. adult smartphone penetration will grow from 43.9% in 2011 to 58.3% by 2014, reaching nearly 38.6 million adults by 2014. During this time, the percentage of smartphone users who will have scanned a mobile 2D barcode will see a slight uptick from 25% to 27%.

 Source: eMarketer

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, making for “one and done” users.

Citing data from mobile payments and marketing company Mobio, the 60% of North American consumers who scanned QR Codes in Q3 2011 did so just once.

“What consumers want from their 2-D 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 (43%) of respondents were strongly interested in discounts via scans, backing up this claim.  

 Source: eMarketer

With this in mind, 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.

Poorly aligned consumer-brand expectations for mobile barcode-linked content and inadequate user experiences are driving consumers away from mobile barcode use, says eMarketer. “Until marketers move beyond the practice of pushing content to consumers via mobile barcodes, and instead give consumers what they want ... many consumers will continue to consider their first mobile barcode experience their last.”

Source: eMarketer, QR Codes Aren’t Giving Consumers What They Want, July 17 2012.