To QR or Not to QR, That is the Question!




Would you scan this QR Code?

Do you even have a QR scanner on your phone?

Does the fact this QR code isn’t the typical black and white make you curious?

How about the fact this blog post is all about QR codes, does that make you curious?

My guess is your answer to all the above questions is, “No” except maybe the last question.  I think I would be curious where the QR code would take me; but then I would assume it would be a page where the blogger would self-promote themselves.

I’ve tried QR codes for my company and seen very limited success.  People don’t scan.  We have experimented putting them in various places where people just linger around and still they don’t scan.  Last year during the holiday season, I created a QR shirt for a woman in my office.  The text read, “Do you like me?”  Under that was a QR code.  If a person scanned the code, the redirect would take you to her Facebook page.  Funny yes, scans no.


It might have to do with the fact QR codes look very strange.  Still after all these years, they are a visual blight.  Even if you mix up the usual black and white QR code with colors, they still do not flow with prose and glossy images.

I went to a mobile conference where Best Buy shared their usability tests on the QR codes and the results really weren’t all that surprising.  People at first had no idea what the strange looking black and white patterns were.  Moreover,  if they did, they had no idea how to scan them.

In theory, the QR codes are an ideal concept that blends the off-line and the on-line world with a press of a couple buttons on a smartphone.  Yet in actual practice, people are lazy.  If they are reading a print piece, they are not going to pick up their phone to learn more by scanning.  I think people choose the medium they want and then stick with it.  You stay off-line or on-line.  I say this with one caveat.  In a store, if you combine a shelf product strong call to action with immediate large savings on a purchase, people “might” scan.  The percent savings needs to be significant for people to reach in and pull out their smartphone.

Recently I met a QR vendor (yes there are vendors) and I had him present to my team about the power of QR codes.  I asked him to share specific metrics of success.  He had one case study that showed a large number of scans.  Yet, this was at a theme park and when I challenged him to drill down on actual scans compared to theme park foot traffic, he was not able to give me the true scan conversion numbers which I gather was rather small.

I fundamentally believe we need a “bridge” between off-line and on-line, it just seems that QR codes are not successfully conveying people between the two at this juncture.

So to QR or not to QR, it’s not really a question for me anymore.  I say “No” to QR!

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