QR Code Marketing: Why This Touchless Trend Feels Right
If February 2020 feels like a decade ago, you’re not alone. Last year was one of the most challenging—and felt like one of the longest—ever faced. And to think, it started out relatively normal, with casual debates about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepping down from their royal duties, and J-Lo and Shakira’s attention-grabbing NFL Super Bowl halftime show.
That should have been followed by wagers and office pools for the traditional March Madness college basketball tournaments. We even wrote (in retrospect) a visionary article about how brands could reach the NCAA’s fans via QR code marketing. And we continued writing about the value proposition of QR codes through 2020 as we were certain that their popularity would grow.
What dramatically changed QR’s course?
We were out in front embracing the versatility of Quick Response codes, but little did anyone know how game-changing they would seem once Covid-19 suddenly roared across the country. At a time when shutdowns and social distancing were changing the traditional retail experience, QR codes became a go-to touchless technology that could be used anywhere from retail windows to in-store signage, consumer packaged goods (CPG) to menus, and more.
As an early champion of these special cryptograms, we’ve come to realize the endless ways that they can be used in marketing and consumer connections; and over time, we developed an expertise and distinct approach towards business strategies around them. To share our ideas and concepts in QR use, we put together a Marketer’s Guide to QR Codes. In our guide, we detail why this formerly little-used bit of retail technology makes sense now—especially since consumers are adapting to its ease of use—as well as going forward in a post-pandemic world. More on that in a bit.
Technology is in consumers’ hands. Literally.
A recent article in RetailWire cites a Statista study that shows 46 percent of consumers noticed a spike in the use of technology in the U.S. and U.K. since last March. It stands to reason that an increase in QR code usage only made sense as, the magazine points out, both Android and Apple had added code-scanning capabilities in their smartphone cameras. This meant “consumers no longer need to install a separate app to scan,” removing barriers and opening many, many doors to varied marketing concepts and approaches.
And their use doesn’t just mean driving the consumer to your website and dropping them off. The QR route can be so much more than this in terms of personalizing the experience and connecting all senses of the brand to the consumer. A recent article in Modern Retail describes how DTC candle brand Cadence Candle Co. began packing QR codes with its products, linking users to curated Spotify music playlists that reflect each scent. So not only could customers enjoy their purchase but now they had music to enjoy it by.
Consumer understanding of QR use and value grows daily.
Although QR Codes are simple to use, an article in Digital Trends detailed how some people initially showed resistance toward using them. Josh Phillips, the co-owner and general manager of Espita, a Washington, D.C.-area restaurant, began using the codes to handle touchless menus and payments.
“[One guest] interacted with it and changed her tune to ‘I know I was hating on this QR code thing, but this is actually great. Why doesn’t everyone do this?’” the magazine quotes Phillips as saying. “That’s a pattern I see repeatedly with the few people that have had complaints. By the end of the meal, they are always on board and think it is great.”
In the months since Covid-19 began spreading, shoppers have become more attuned to the different ways they can have a more immersive consumer experience, especially with the help of their phones. And this has also led to multilayered pathways in connecting with consumers using QR.
Bridging the physical and digital world
According to Techjourney.net, in 2020 50.1% of the time spent on mobile is done using social media apps. Our guess is that it’s likely more than that, given all of the physical restrictions we have been faced with over this last year. But we’re in agreement that it would only make sense that social media is now also part of the current retailing equation. Connecting QR to these platforms shows immense promise in elongating and deepening the relationship with consumers.
Forbes describes how stores and restaurants can use Instagram’s QR codes so businesses can more easily bridge the physical and digital—okay, phygital—worlds of retail. Some of the things these codes can show include restaurant menus, even changes that may happen throughout the day; up-to-date inventory, including new merchandise drops; person-to-person direct messaging opportunities with retail associates and seamless buy online, pickup in-store checkouts for featured items.
But even more interesting is how QR codes can be a connector to the brand and to other brand fans. Especially now, at the height of sporting events, when consumers are suddenly (and sadly) discovering that grocery shopping is their entertainment for the week, a QR code can be a great connector to other fans when they physically cannot sit next to them in a stadium. What better way for a brand to edge its persona into the hearts of shoppers than to serve as the catalyst for their connection to one another, sharing team spirit along with a pile high of cheese-covered nachos?
The possibilities are endless.
QR codes have a world of opportunity to offer marketers looking to create relatively inexpensive, immersive, and diverse campaigns. With shoppers constantly on the move and their phones becoming an extension of their phygital reach, QR codes offer an exciting and safe, touch-free way to richly engage at all levels, wherever the shopper wanders.
As the possibilities and ideas are almost limitless, we’ve got something to whet your appetite further: Medallion Retail’s Marketer’s Guide to QR Codes.
Thumb through our comprehensive Marketer’s Guide to QR Codes and you’ll discover page after page of insights and ideas toward marketing with QR codes. How they can be effectively used across a broad spectrum of retail, restaurant and service industries and how you can get this marketing approach up and running fast with positive measurable results are just the beginning.
Why not get inspired…Get informed…Get started…Now!
(P.S. See how easy it is to connect by scanning our QR code in the blog image to find out more about Medallion Retail)