If you’re a packaged goods manufacturer, you need to know more about QR Codes. That’s short for Quick Response Code, a symbology developed in Japan in the 1990’s. Here’s why I’m excited about their potential marketing implications.
A QR Code looks like a jumble of squares inside a bigger square. This type of symbol can encode a great deal of information, but all you need to read it is a smart phone and a simple downloadable app. (I found a dozen such apps for the iPhone on i-tunes. A free one from Tap Media worked great but included embedded advertising. One that costs $1.99, called quiQR, has a richer feature set and no advertising.)
Creating QR Codes is even easier because there’s nothing to download. At qrcode.kaywa.com I created the code shown below in a jif!
Try it now! If you want to invest a minute to download a scanning app, you can scan my code directly from your computer screen and see the surprise I’ve embedded in it. (Hint: if you “like” what you see, feel free to express yourself.) All you have to do is aim your smart phone at it. Depending on your phone and your app, it’ll either go to work automatically or you might have to take a picture of it.
The app then takes over and, in my example, translates the code into a Web address. Alternatively, it might contain a photo or an SMS message.
So why is this big news to packaged goods manufacturers? With a QR Code printed on your package, you’ll find shoppers scanning it right there in the aisle or in the privacy of home. Either way, they’ll automatically receive a message or be taken directly to a Web page with your product or brand related content. Here are just a few ideas of what you could do on such a page:
• Play a video for them
• Offer them a coupon
• Provide nutritional facts
• Show the range of product sizes and varieties available
• Suggest a recipe
• Invite them to become fans on Facebook
• Give them a chance to enter a contest
Here are a couple of twists my partner and I thought of:
• Send them a coupon that can be displayed on their mobile phone and scanned at the register. Instant gratification!
• Use variable data print technology to vary the code that appears on each package and randomize the insertion of multiple prize levels
• Send an SMS message inviting the user to receive periodic promotions via SMS
• Or why not just riff off of the technique being used to promote gulf restoration following the oil spill. A cooperative effort of a number of organizations, it includes giant a QR code on the Thomas Reuters billboard in Times Square linking to a web video and a petition demanding action. Which CPG firm will be the first to use this technology for their own brand building purposes?
The possibilities are limitless, and the end result in every case is a broader, more fulfilling shopping experience for customers who are open to it. That’s an experience brought to them by [insert your brand name here]!
Because QR Codes are a sort of trending phenomenon now, there is a growing curiosity and willingness among shoppers to try them out. But we’re not just interested in early adopters. The smartphone market is growing rapidly. According to a December 2009 article on Cnet.com smartphones are expected to increase to 37% of the cellphone market worldwide by 2014 from their current penetration of 16%. That’s 1.8 billion phones capable of scanning your QR Code. Therefore NOW is the time to exercise leadership, explore the medium and be first to engage!
What do you think? Have any of you used QR Codes? Think I’m wrong about their potential? Feel free to call me out!