QR codes (which originated in Japan) have been used by marketers world-wide to reach out and interact with their customers. These days, one can see QR codes in almost every medium- magazines, billboards, T-shirts, roads, body-parts, condoms etc. According to a comscore report in December 2011, 1 in every 5 smartphone owners in the U.S. scanned a QR code with their phone.Globally, brands have successfully put QR codes to use and have generated a lot of eyeballs.
How have these black and white codes become the marketers’ hidden weapon? Simple -they add interactivity to a static print medium and the black and white codes add to consumer curiosity. Also, QR codes are turning out to be the perfect marketing package — a brief, compact, message driver and an engagement tool — all loaded in one single code. Hence, we have seen a lot of marketers falling in love with them. The graph below shows why consumers are scanning the QR codes:
Indian marketers too have joined this bandwagon. In fact the Google Trends report on QR Codes puts India among the Top 10 countries at No 9. So have the Indian marketers really cracked these black and white codes. Let’s look at few examples before we make a judgement.
Indian brands using QR codes
To begin with let’s look at few Indian brands that are on the right track in successfully using QR codes.
Shoppers Stop –
The sale season is always a challenge for a brand to stand out and achieve the humongous sales target. And if you look at any newspaper you will see almost every brand advertising about the sales promo. So how did a brand like Shoppers Stop stand out? The solution was to use QR codes effectively and then start conversations with their customers and delight them in an interesting fashion. Shoppers Stop placed a QR code in the print ads and on scanning the QR code the user was asked to install an app called ‘Shoppers Stop secret’ and then see the magic.
With the help of this app, readers could trigger an augmented reality set-up in which they could view certain ‘secret offers’. These offers were not printed specifically in the newspaper ad, hence in order to see them one had to download the app. According to me, one of the primary reasons it worked was these special offers delighted the consumers and justified their decision to use QR code and download the app.
Turquoise Cottage – Buddy Stamp
Here is another example on how Turquoise Cottage, a popular bar in New Delhi, used QR codes on Christmas eve to show their customers and patrons that they cared and wanted to ensure that their customers had a nice experience in the bar and reached home safely. They also gave them hangover remedies for the next day!
Now let’s look at some of the big marketers who have failed miserably with their QR code campaign
KitKat one of the biggest brand in the world went horribly wrong in their usage of QR codes. KitKat had come out with this print ads to promote their new campaign. Now one of the reasons why QR codes have been a hit among the users is the curiosity to see what’s going to be there once they scan those black and white codes. And KitKat did exactly the opposite and told user to scan it and watch their television ad. Something which a consumer must have already seen on TV.
Infosys is a brand which regularly advertises on Times Ascent page so that it remains as a top brand to work for the tech community. Now if you take a look at this ad, they have a very lengthy copy and then a lot of instructions on how to apply at Infosys. They have also tried to place a QR code in the middle of all the instructions. And if one scans the QR code it takes the user to the job application page on their website. I personally think it’s a good idea poorly executed. There are already enough instructions on job application mentioned in the print ad. So what’s the purpose of a user scanning the QR code and then landing on the application page? Instead, Infosys could have shown the user a video which could either be about why Infosys is a good place to work or testimonials of employees who have worked with Infosys.
Another brand which I think so has gone totally wrong with the usage of QR codes. If one scans the QR code it takes them to the company’s website. Also if we look at the ad clearly they have also mentioned company’s website in the copy. Total waste of the print ad space and definitely a lot of dissatisfied users.
Like seen above, a lot of Indian brands have started using QR codes. Few of them have done it right but a lot of them just do it so that they can be seen among those elite list of brands who are masters of technology. But they need to understand that just placing a QR codes with the link to the website or their TVC will not be helpful. Personally, I think QR codes are a good starting point for engaging and starting conversation with the users. But what is more important is the end result that the consumers are getting after scanning the QR code. Otherwise it will be a waste of ad space and more importantly consumers’ precious time.
Featured Image Courtesy: clevercupcakes