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UK consumers ‘unfamiliar with QR codes’

In spite of the increasing prevalence of QR codes on posters, packaging and print media, a new report claims that only a relatively small proportion of the UK population understand what they are, and even fewer have actually made use of them.

QR (quick response) codes are of course instantly recognisable by those in the know as the large white squares filled with indecipherable black or coloured markings which can be scanned by a smartphone in order to generate promotional information on the phone’s screen.

According to the report by research company, Simpson Carpenter, however, those ‘in the know’ may be fewer than many marketers realise.

A survey conducted by the organisation revealed that only 36% of respondents claimed to know what a QR code was, with 43% of respondents saying they had never even seen one before. Furthermore, only 11% of respondents claimed to have actually used a QR code.

Commenting on the findings, Simpson Carpenter’s director of major studies, Kevin Connolly, said that what was particularly worrying was that the survey was carried out online, and that all respondents were therefore “by default heavily engaged with the internet” and “no doubt the target audience for many brands already using QR codes”.

Ironically, the claimed lack of awareness of QR codes comes as many marketers are said to be increasing the sophistication of their QR code generated messages.

As a result of his organisation’s findings, Connolly has recommended that marketers need to instead do more to “focus on educating and informing consumers” about what QR codes can actually do.

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  • Jane B

    So……Connolly concludes that marketers should convince consumers that QR codes are really great and worth all the fuss? I’m a barcode woman myself. Although I do admit that QR codes (QR, for those of you who don’t know the score, stands for quintessentially rubbish/quite remarkable/quietly regal) are the perfect solution for taking stock of car parts in a factory environment.

  • Ed Grimley

    It’s really no surprise that many consumers are unaware of QR codes and their use. A quick straw poll amongst friends gave results of only 1 in 8 knowing what they were and they hadn’t actually used one themselves.

    From just looking around in Manchester centre, some examples of how QR codes are being used poorly are on the back of buses, on posters where the QR code is about 10cm from the ground and stuck on a poster with no explanation.

    Education is one vital, and companies have missed a massive trick. There seems to be an assumption that simply displaying them will make consumers go out of their way to find out what the QR code is and how to use it without any benefits being explained.