QR codes, aka Quick Response codes, are the two-dimensional barcodes you can find everywhere from product packaging to placemats and promo posters. Why are they so popular around the world but not in the US?
Marketers ruin everything. Like so many other things (social media, content marketing, email, etc.) when marketers jump on the bandwagon to implement the latest emerging tech but fail to add value, the resulting effects are dismal. Consumers deserve better, and we as marketers need to be better than that. If what you are doing doesn’t add value or enhance the consumer experience you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
Consumers never really got the point. There were a few really stellar campaigns that provided free music downloads and other digital content but they were only accessible to those with the right gear. For some reason there didn’t seem to be a reliable go-to software for reading QR codes, and who wants to have to download multiple apps to try and read a QR code with little to gain. (See first point above.)
Smartphones never seemed to scan QR codes properly. Our phones have been optimized to capture photos, not barcodes. We are a selfie/pictogram culture; we use our smartphones to capture everything in our daily life in living color. (Even if we intend on editing and filtering it into quasi-perfection.) QR codes are literally bar codes, information is encoded in pixels meant to be read as positive and negative space. Digital photography is quite the opposite with complex layers of encoded data to capture light, depth, and color. invest in QR code reading when there is a greater value add in image recognition?
Thus it made little sense to invest in QR code reading when image recognition can provide a greater value add. Think about it. You need to fix something and you have the piece you need to replace, which you could order online if you knew what it was called. So you fire up an app that allows you to snap the thing-a-ma-bobber and identifies what it is, so you can find it conveniently in your local store or order it online.
What this doesn’t explain is why QR codes have been so popular everywhere else in the world.