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QR-Codes As Marketing Tool

I came across an interesting report from 3GVision, the creator of the i-nigma barcode scanner. The numbers show a worldwide growth in mobile barcode usage. The US is leading the growth, but the popularity of barcodes is also increasing in Europe with Germany, the UK and Italy leading this trend. So maybe this is finally catching up outside of Japan?
Top 10 users of mobile barcodes during May 2011:

(1)   1. United States
(2)   2. Germany
(4)   3. United Kingdom
(3)   4. Italy
(5)   5. Canada
(6)   6. Netherlands
(7)   7. France
(8)   8. Hong Kong
(9)   9. Spain
(13) 10. Australia

Position in () was in April/2011

Top 5 growing countries for May 2011:

1. Australia (74.1% Growth over April/2011)
2. Hong Kong (43.3%)
3. United States (39.0%)
4. France (32.2%)
5. United Kingdom (31.5%)

Global growth in mobile barcode usage Q4/09–Q1/11:

* see below for notes on reporting methodology

QR-Codes and Marketing

As mentioned in the report the mobile barcode usage is increasing in Germany. On I found some interesting mobile marketing campaigns using QR codes (“Quick Response Codes”). Here are some examples how companies already using QR-Codes in their advertisment.
1. Bausch + Lomb - QR-Code, SMS, Mobile Couponing

The pharmaceutical company Bausch+Lomb uses QR-Codes and SMS shortcode in his print ads. By scanning the QR code the user will be forwarded to a mobile landing page where he receives more information about Biotrue, a care product for contact lenses. He also gets a coupon there for a free product sample.
In case the user has no QR-Code reader on his mobile phone he can request a link to the mobile portal via SMS shortcode.

2. Globetrotter – QR-Codes

The equipment manufacturer Globetrotter used QR-Codes in his latest print campaign. By scanning the QR code on the advertisement the user will get to a mobile landing page where he receives more information about the reforestation project “Globetrotter VisionsWald”.

3. Universal Music – image recognition

In his latest poster advertising campaign for the new Lady Gaga Album Universal Music uses the U snap App from Wall AG, a value-added app for smartphones, on the German market. The user has to download the free U snap App for iPhone or Android smartphones from the App Store. When starting the app the user can take a picture of the print ad and gets samples from the new Lady Gaga album, can view music videos or win concert tickets, fan packages and CDs.
About 15,000 City Light Posters with the slogan “Fly to Lady Gaga with U snap” accompany the release of the new album “Born This Way”.

Our Opinion:

Many brands and retailers already started using QR-Codes in their marketing campaigns. For example McDonalds, Vichy, Aldi Süd, Tesco etc. The biggest advantage of QR-Codes is that customers get further information about a product fast and easy. They just need a mobile phone with a camera, web access and a QR-Code reader software (e.g. Kaywa Reader, QuickMark Barcode Reader, i-nigma Reader).

There are various opportunities of using QR-Codes. Companies can use them as a direct response marketing tool for print campaigns (call-to-action) or even to sell virtual goods like games, music or ringtones. I think the usage of QR Codes will be increasing in the future and we will see a wide range of usage of QR-Codes in marketing.
Sources: i-nigma U snap Wall AG
* Notes on reporting methodology:
  • These reports are based on the total number of QRcode, Datamatrix and UPC/EAN scans recorded by the i-nigma system during the relevant periods. Because of i‑nigma’s prominence in many markets worldwide, 3GVision believes that these numbers are likely to be indicative of global mobile barcode activity.
  • The reports do not include activity in Japan, which is known to be well ahead in popularity and usage of mobile barcodes.
  • For better representation of global open market trends, the reports specifically exclude the activity of i‑nigma-based solutions that are used by our vertical customers.
  • Top 5 growing countries are from the top 20 countries in mobile barcodes usage during May/2011.