Remember QR codes in 1994? Most people don’t, but that’s the year they came out—and those who are familiar often wonder if the code is still relevant in the business world. The QR (Quick Response) code was invented by a subsidiary of Toyota for the vehicle industry. It was quickly picked up by other industries, as a way of doing inventory and tracking. When smartphones first started using the feature, a separate app had to be downloaded for its use, and that was when its popularity waned.
Is the QR Code Dead in 2019?
In 2017, Apple added the QR code directly through the camera app. It can be accessed through the quick control center, and that has brought it back into popularity. Now, it is used widely in multiple industries.
This may surprise you, but QR code users are the highest in numbers in the US and Japan. iPhone users are the most typical, ranging from ages 25-34. If you think the QR code is dead in 2019, this data may change your mind, and help you see that it’s making a comeback.
What Brands are Still Using QR Codes and Which Ways Are They Keeping it Relevant?
The music industry uses QR codes for concert tickets. Nowadays, it’s a generally accepted norm to buy tickets online, and download them on your device. While the code will appear on printed tickets as well, most people opt for the downloaded version that they can pull from their phone at the door of the concert. Airlines also use QR codes for downloaded flight tickets, because they save paper and time at the airport. Here are seven specific brands keeping the codes relevant:
- Instagram and Angry Birds
- New Delhi Municipal Council
- Taco Bell
Read on to learn more about the distinctive ways each brand utilizes, and profits from, the QR code.
Fandango is a popular movie ticketing company that still uses QR codes in innovative ways, keeping it relevant. In a recent project, Fandango allowed mobile phone users to purchase tickets for the superhero horror film, Brightburn, by using a special QR code embedded in the film’s ads. To buy tickets, customers simply have to point their phone at the screen, and capture the digital code—From there, they will be redirected to Fandango’s website. Fandango claims that this is the first time web-based QR codes have been used to sell a movie ticket.
Many people see ads on television and immediately forget about them, so this is an innovative strategy to urge people to make their purchase before they forget. Plus, we do so much on our phones that this is just another convenient way to make an online purchase. As innovators, we know that optimizing a mobile shop site for your e-commerce business is one of the beneficial ways of growing customer base. Increasingly, every transaction is done online. Fandango is an example of a company riding this trend, using the QR code in a strategic and profitable way.
Brick and mortar stores often use QR codes, and they are widely popular with consumers. Last year, 40 percent of shopping customers scanned QR codes for various stores, to compare prices between competition.
JCPenney, one of the brands who still uses QR codes in strategic ways, started a program called “Santa Tags,” where people who purchased and gift-wrapped an item during the holiday season could include a QR code on the packaging. The receiver of the gift can scan the code, and hear a message from the giver.
3. Instagram and Angry Birds
Instagram and Angry Birds offer prime examples of brands who still use QR codes in innovative ways. Recently, Instagram worked with the designers of the Angry Birds app to create an ad with a QR code, directing viewers right to the app. They could scan the code directly from Instagram, and be brought to the Angry Birds’s download. This worked well for both participants because it not only gained app users on Angry Birds, but also associated Instagram with a popular game. Essentially, it expanded Instagram’s brand. Here is proof that the mechanism is not dead, but making a comeback.
4. New Delhi Municipal Council
QR codes are making a comeback through museums in 2019. The Lodhi Gardens now have QR codes near many different botanical plants within the garden. Rather than the old way of printing out brochures and carrying them around, only to throw them out after they leave, guests can simply scan the code, and learn all the information they need to know about the plant species. This is not only an environmentally-friendly method, but users also have more accessibility to facts pertaining to the plants through the app. The details provided include the tree’s age, lifespan, botanical name, and common name. This is another example of an institution which is effectively utilizing the QR code, keeping it relevant in the real world.
After seeing these businesses who have made a comeback in relevant QR codes, VCard developed its own service program related to the tool. VCard is an online free QR code generator. Users can design their own code for free on the website. The advantage people gain from having their own code is to promote their own business, or even just make it easier to share their contact information.
WeChat, the primary social media and messaging method in China, shows that QR codes are not dead; this company uses QR codes to their fullest potential. A WeChat QR code grants users much more than adding one another’s contact information. With their code, WeChat participants can join a WeChat group, find official accounts, and even make payments. The use of credit cards and cash is almost nonexistent in China, in 2019. Increasingly, many people just make payments through WeChat Pay.
Users can design their own personal code through their profiles with a simple system. It is fun to design, because there are many colorful options and designs to choose from. WeChat’s practices demonstrate how the QR code is not dead; hopefully, WeChat will continue using it so effectively, keeping it relevant and helping make it a comeback in its real-world functionality.
7. Taco Bell
Taco Bell has been using QR codes for years, and their results have been successful. They print the codes on their packaging, so that when people order a meal and sit down to eat it, the codes are visible. People can then scan the code while they are eating, and engage in the activities and messages that come up. For Taco Bell, the QR code is not dead in 2019, but has made its brand more interactive. Among our list, it is one of the highly successful ways that QR codes have been utilized as of late.
What Alternatives are Brands Using Now to Take the Place of The QR Code?
Despite the success these brands have experienced from using the QR code, many marketing strategists in 2019 will advise you not to bother with it. Apart from these instances of success, many marketers have used it with little effect. The chance of a comeback is slim. Various brands that sell snacks and other food items include a code for nutritional facts, which has no call to action and does not promote engagement. This has been the bottom line for many companies’ use of codes and thus, many deem QR codes past their prime. Here are two alternatives brands are using to replace the QR code:
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Image Recognition
1. Augmented Reality (AR)
AR apps and features allow consumers to visualize what they’re purchasing will actually look like. IKEA, for example, uses an AR feature for people to hold the camera up to their home, and instantly see what their home could potentially look like if they bought the recommended furniture.
Sephora Visual Artist offers customers the ability to upload a photo of themselves, and “try on” different colors and tones to match their skin and hair. Makeup has traditionally been an item most purchasers had to buy in the store, in order to see what the product looks before they purchase. However, Sephora has stepped up its e-commerce game with this app, drastically increasing its online sales through this feature.
Augmented Reality in e-commerce provides many marketing benefits. It promotes the visualization of purchases, and enhances the customer’s shopping experience. People don’t have to worry about buying the wrong size or the wrong color when they can see how it will look in real life, before committing to purchase.
2. Image Recognition
Image Recognition is one of the QR alternatives which is a step-up from QR codes. Google Goggles is an app which uses Image Recognition to provide information to users about anything they photograph. While this mobile app can scan barcodes and QR codes, it can do so much more. By taking a photo, it can identify books, music, artwork, and logos. You can add contacts through Google Goggles, and even translate foreign text.
Image Recognition works more efficiently than QR codes because it does not rely on one specific image. Rather, it can use any object and recognize information for the user, based on the object alone. Image Recognition is also less sensitive to light than QR codes, making it more flexible and usable in many situations.
So, is the QR code dead in 2019 or will it make a comeback? The answer is not black and white, since there are many brands making effective use of the QR code this year in 2019. But, technology is developing, and is quickly surpassing the usefulness of the code. New technologies are transforming the marketing industry of e-commerce and physical stores. When it comes to your business, the best strategy is always to stay ahead of the game. Don’t trail behind, asking others to wait up. Stay ahead of the rest.