QR codes, those rudimentary squares of black and white pixelated boxes you see on advertisements and marketing materials, have not had the initial success many thought they would. Marketing mavens across the country jumped the QR code bandwagon, but here’s why they don’t work for now.
1. Most young people don’t use QR codes. A recent survey of college kids, ages 18-22, found that 79% of them don’t know what to do with a QR code. This is an ominous sign coming from young people that have a natural knack for working with gadgets and technology.
2. QR codes don’t make access to information either. If someone is on the run, say traveling for example and they need a cheap car rental, they’re most likely going to type in the URL on their smartphone browser. The person isn’t going to wait to see a print ad for car rentals with a QR code, pull out their phone, toggle on the QR code reader app, then wait to see where they will be directed. QR codes are indirect and more like a digital detour.
3. QR codes are only scanned by 5% of Americans. This is still 14 million people, and a sizeable audience. However, 35% of adults own smartphones, which means that 65% don’t. In other words, 65% of American adults don’t have the capacity to even scan a QR code.
For now, QR codes are in a fluid state of evolution. There are a number of wrinkles to be ironed out still. But much like the popularity of text messaging in Europe and Asia predating the text message boom in America, in a few years, QR codes will most likely reach their potential.