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.