Are QR Codes Savable? My Reply

Scanning the news for all things QR Code, I came across an article on Digiday’s website titled, “Are QR Codes Savable?”. While the author doesn’t really commit to much, here’s my two cents (in bold).

Are QR Codes Savable?
by Giselle Abramovich

QR codes appear to be another Second Life, a hyped fad that marketers loved and consumers shrugged at. Like virtual worlds, however, QR has its dedicated believers. Digiday asked marketing leaders from Kellogg, Wayfair, Campbell and other brands to weigh in on whether the QR code will find its place in the marketing arsenal or fade away as digital media’s moon boots.

Bob Arnold, Associate Director of Digital Strategy, Kellogg North America
We are using QR codes. One of our brands is Crunchy Nut cereal. We use QR codes that link to videos right on the cereal box. We are playing in that space. The reason QR codes got a bad rap is because they were supposed to change the world, and it hasn’t happened. It reminds me of Bluetooth. Everyone thought that wires would be gone, and that has not happened. What’s great about QR codes for the cereal brands specifically is the box is in front of the customer during breakfast, and they are reading the nutrition information and the content on the back of the box. So for a brand like Crunchy Nut, we decided it was a great opportunity for us to leverage our packaging to extend the relationship with consumers.

2DBS: Bob, the reason QR Codes got (get) a bad rap is, because companies like yours are providing an interactive customer experience via a code that, in my opinion, is meaningless and of little value to the customer (see article). In your Crunchy Nut cereal QR Code campaign, the code linked to a series of location-based 15-second videos, which showed people in the morning hours around the globe. Question: How do videos like these serve to “extend the relationship with customers?” Or was that not the objective?  And, if that was not the objective, what was? If you really want to leverage your packaging and take advantage of some “free” ad space (i.e., on the cereal box), why not develop a QR Code campaign that truly motivates or rewards a prospective customer to try the cereal for the first time (e.g., a mobile coupon)?

Andrew Garcia, Media Manager, Wayfair
Tricky question! Eventually we look back on QR technology as an early way we directly tracked customers across the [offline-online] channel barrier. Driving engagement was never a big issue for omnichannel marketers but only recently have we been able to put our finger on the ROI without leaning on geo-exclusion tests or other fuzzy methodologies. Eventually, QR fades, because it gets replaced by the next level of cross-channel tracking. Whether we’re talking about augmented reality (think Google Glass) or something else is a whole other discussion. My feeling is that the next iteration of QR might be free of the “novelty marketing” leash and will simply support existing brand marketing efforts (invisibly) with better tracking behind it. To that end, QR codes as we know them today will pass, while the trend for breaching the digital-physical divide is here to stay.

2DBS: Andrew, if your main thought about QR Codes is that the technology serves as a way to track customers across channels then no wonder you believe it’s a tricky question. QR Code technology helps brands (B2B or B2C) further the interactive experience it has with a customer or prospect. A by-product of the technology is that it can aid in the tracking of this interaction. While you comment on how QR Codes will get replaced with another technology that offers greater tracking capabilities, know that there are service providers in the market today, which can provide data beyond scan rates, scan location, device type and time of scan. It’s just a matter of doing some research.

Adam Kmiec, Director of Global Digital Marketing & Social Media, Campbell Soup
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The problem with QR codes isn’t the QR code itself, it’s often the implementation. This has become such a problem that we now have dedicated Tum-blogs for mocking the implementation of QR codes, by brands. Is this really unexpected though when you consider that the carpenters who are often leveraging QR codes, only understand the tools of TV? A QR code is a tool. It’s an option. You don’t have to use it. The decision to use QR codes should be based on the insights about your audience and your business objective, not because they seem “cool” or “hip.” As a global brand, we’d be remiss if QR codes weren’t part of our connection plans in Asia, where QR code penetration and usage is well over 50 percent. The question shouldn’t be, are QR codes a good marketing option? But instead: Are your QR codes a great way for me to naturally connect with my audience.

2DBS: Adam, my thoughts exactly.  Thank you.

Erich Marx, Head of Interactive & Social Media Marketing, Nissan
Nissan believes in QR codes, and we’ve seen steadily increasing engagement as we’ve expanded our use of them in printed materials as well as on our actual vehicles in our dealerships. We find QR codes are a valuable source of information that our customers use at our stores to better understand the features, advantages and benefits of our cars.

2DBS: Erich, great that you are using QR Codes and seeing results, but beyond an increase in scan rates, do you actually see an increase in product sales? Can a direct correlation be made? If not then are you challenging yourself and your team to make such a correlation possible?

Johnna Hoff, Spokeswoman, eBay
QR codes can be a dynamic way to bring consumers closer to products and experiences. eBay’s Red Laser scanning app scans both QR codes and UPC, and eBay has used QR codes in recent campaigns. We’ve found them to be a fun, easy way to make new experiences multi-dimensional, and to provide consumers with additional, often exclusive content that interests them. For example, at the Sasquatch! Music Festival last year, RedLaser teamed with VH1’s May “Artist You Oughta Know,” Fitz and the Tantrums. At the festival, fans could scan various QR codes at RedLaser’s booth, giving them the chance to win a meet-and-greet, entry into an exclusive concert or free merchandise, and the ability to immediately “like” the band on Facebook or purchase the band’s album.

2DBS: Johnna, there’s one word in your comment that truly resonates with me…”exclusive.” The vast majority of QR Code-based campaigns lack any semblance of exclusivity yet we, as marketers, all know that this is one tactic which consumers welcome and respond to.

In summary, yes, QR Codes are savable, but only if marketers take them at face value. QR Codes and other print to mobile technologies are not a silver bullet. Instead, they are just one more marketing tool or tactic, by which a marketer can enhance the experience a consumer or prospect has with a brand, product and/or service.   


2 thoughts on “Are QR Codes Savable? My Reply

  1. Yes QR codes are a tool. They are a tool to very effectively and efficiently help customers and consumers make the transition from a flat passive print environment to an active engaging digital world where they can get offers, education and entertainment. The QR code is a visual signal that the digital gateway is open and easy to get through (no long URL’s to remember or type in). Once customers and consumers are connected it is easy for them to share their finding through their social networks and they can easily be directed to other opportunities for more information, savings or entertainment.A properly constructed mobile web site is optimized for any mobile screen and is very “thumb friendly”. The ease of navigation and ability to get to what a customer/consumer want in a couple of easy fast clicks provides a good experience. Best practices suggest that you explain next to the QR code what the consumer can expect when they scan it. – Scan for valuable coupons – Scan for Recipes – Scan for Assembly Instructions – Scan for Maintenance Instructions – Scan for “How To” Videos etc. Don’t take it for granted that the viewer will automatically scan your code. There needs to be a compelling call to action. Once engaged it should be possible for the viewer to easily share with their social media networks. Properly designed analytics should let you read not only the QR code scans but also video views etc so you get a feeling for the viral nature of your campaigns. To learn more about how you can easily build mobile optimized web sites (or have them built for you) , generate QR or 2D tags, and get analytics all without any coding or programming visit

  2. I really enjoyed your post. This is exactly what marketers are suffering from- lack of creativity and lack of understanding that the medium is not meant to simply lead into an other extended ad, the true benefit of the code is its ability to bring people in deeper. To do this those working on QR campaigns have to have that customer value added perspective. I was really happy to come across this post in our linked in group. Great to meet you! Thanks for the words of reason! I also wrote a post about QR Strategy, highlighting a marketer using it in exactly the right direction here

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