QR Codes May Fade Into Retirement

QR Codes May Fade Into Retirement

I read a great article today on adage. It discusses the evolution, and perhaps, demise of the QR code and why marketers shouldn’t waste a lot of time with them. I tend to agree…let me explain why.

Marketing needs to have meaning. I don’t care if it’s TV, Radio, Print, Word-of-mouth, Social Media or Internet/Online marketing – it’s just got to have meaning to work. If a marketing message doesn’t mean something to it’s intended audience, then it will be forgotten in short order.A QR code is a little black square comprised of other little black squares. That’s it. Of course, if you can decode it, it can contain all types of information, like a link to a profile, or domain name, or really pretty much any other numeric information you want it to contain. Unfortunately, the human brain can’t yet decipher this, which means we need a deciphering device to do this. And this is where the disconnect comes in. We can understand a marketing slogan. We can understand a website domain name. We can understand a phone number (and maybe even remember it). We can understand Foursquare. We can understand Facebook. But we can’t understand a QR code.

Secondarily, in an age where convenience often equates to luxury (think about it), we only give the time and mental energy to things that mean something, and are convenient. A QR code is neither meaningful, or really convenient. Let me illustrate with an example:

You are running to a meeting and picking up a cab. While waiting you notice this message on the back of a bus stop. Here are two possible messages, which do you think will work better:

1. “Did you know 1 in 5 American’s will die of lung cancer in the next 5 years? We can change this!  Visit www.KillCancer.com to find out how.”

2. “Did you know 1 in 5 American’s will die of lung cancer in the next 5 years? We can change this!  QR Code

Well, if you’re like me, you might not be inclined to pull out your phone, pull up your camera or QR app and scan that. But if you read the web domain, you might visit it right then, or the message might stick with you and you would want to go check it out later.This is because the domain name “KillCancer” meant something, and it was easy to remember. You didn’t know what the QR code meant, and it wasn’t convenient to try and find out.

However, with all of that said, there are some practical uses for the QR code. It’s kind of like a customizable bar code…so think about uses where it would be nice if you could customize a bar code. Tow examples – airline tickets & grocery store coupons. The airlines and grocery stores can customize these and then have their consumers use them to save paper. There will be hundreds of other uses, but these are a couple examples and I look forward to seeing the really cool usages that smart marketers come up with.

I’m sure some people will disagree with this post, and that’s great. If we all agreed, marketing wouldn’t be any fun. And of course, there has been a lot of investment in that sector, so wherever money is, there are supporters who don’t want to see their investment die.

Hate this? Love it? Let me know below.




Scott Kaufmann
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Scott is Partner at Lucid Agency and a lover of all things technology, marketing, investing and entrepreneurship. Scott volunteers on the board of the Denver-based Nonprofit Celebrate EDU and as a mentor for SeedSpot (a Phoenix-based social startup incubator).

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