Is The QR Code Dead?


The other day, I was talking with someone from another company who asked about our business. After I got done explaining how we help businesses gather information from their customers, the software, our team, he eventually got to what I knew was the inevitable question, “So, how do companies share these surveys?”

So, I explained that most businesses choose to use a QR code to distribute the link to a survey, to which he replied,

“What’s a QR code?”

This surprised me only because, just the other week, I had another person actually ask me…

“Is the QR Code dead?”

Two completely different perspectives of an interesting problem and an excellent illustration of thetechnology adoption life cycle. But, if one group believes that QR codes are dead and yet another is still just beginning to realize their benefits, who are we to believe?

QR Codes Are Dead?

It’s fair to say that the hype around QR codes has started to fade. Near field communication is coming, but the cost of NFC tags and programming has kept it from a quicker world-wide adoption. But prices of NFC tags are dropping dramatically and more software solutions for programming NFC tags are being developed every day.

Like the microchip, NFC will reach a day when the cost is so minimal that the technology becomes ubiquitous. There’s no doubt about that. The genie’s out of the bottle and you can’t put it back in. Which means that eventually, yes, time will run out on QR codes.

In the meantime, QR codes have been plastered on everything from subways to billboards. In an effort to not get left behind, marketers have abused the QR code into submission leaving many users, like the one I met, with a bad taste in their mouth.

QR Codes are Alive?

Sure, I could point to statistics that some research report has discovered about the proliferation of QR codes, but sometimes, I prefer a simpler approach. Here’s an interesting example. Look through a recent issue of a men’s (or women’s, but men’s work better) magazine. Now find an issue from 6 months ago, I bet you won’t see half as many QR codes as you do now.

QR codes are not only being utilized, but in some mediums, in increasingly larger amounts. So, if users are getting tired of the QR code, why are so many businesses still adopting them?

Well, here’s the best explanation I’ve heard:

The QR code is just a tool…it’s not a solution to a problem.

Businesses are better at realizing that, without an underlying compelling benefit to the user, the novelty of QR codes wears off. This is not a new phenomenon. It happens with all consumer technologies. Take 3D movies for example.

For a while, 3D televisions and movies were all the rage. You could not go to a store or theater anywhere without seeing a new advertisement for “3D This” or “3D That”. Then, people stopped watching 3D movies. After they had seen it once, the novelty were off. 3D become just another tool, not a solution. 3D can’t fix a movie with bad acting and a bad story.

So, while NFC will eventually takeover, there are still lots of good examples of QR code campaigns that provide benefit to both the businesses and their customers. Our customers have seen good success when using QR codes along with their mobile campaigns and a strong call-to-action or promotion.

Businesses are still adopting QR codes, because implemented with a good marketing plan, measurement and analysis, they can be effective at creating better customer engagement.

Need some ideas on how to make an effective QR code campaign? You can find lots of tips and tricks,here and here.