Biz Features

Who Cares About QR Codes?

by . October 7th, 2015

Often seen as a quaint throwback to the late 2000’s QR codes still offer plenty of utility — provided you know what to use them for.

What are QR Codes?

A QR code or Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode developed for the Japanese automobile industry. Like regular barcodes, they can be used to store data – much more than regular barcodes.

Back around 2010, they were hailed as the next big thing for marketers, but they seemed to have gone nowhere. Or have they?

Why haven’t they lived up to their promise

Lots of blogs and and so-called experts have decried the apparent uselessness of QR codes. While they certainly haven’t been the “next big thing” they seemed to be back in 2010, this perception only holds true if we’re talking about the American context, and QR codes used for marketing.

In Japan, China, and Korea in particular, QR codes are everywhere. This is partly due to the quirks of how their languages are written, and mostly due to widespread promotion. As a matter of fact, QR codes have been in wide use in those markets since at least 2002.

  • A 2012 survey by found that 97% of consumers polled didn’t even know what a QR code is. 
  • Since 2011, the number of mobile users has increased while QR codes seem to have maintained the same popularity and visibility.
  • According to comScore‘s report, as the number of smartphone users continues to rise, the number of consumers scanning QR codes remains the same since 2011.

Reasons cited for their apparent failure in the US market.

  • Nobody has QR scanners or understands that they may already have them
  • Only 19% of consumers have ever scanned a QR code.
  • American users often feel takes too long to scan a QR code.
  • Marketers cannot directly collect data from them.
  • They’re seen as ugly or difficult to integrate aesthetically in print marketing. 
  • Public unawareness.

Are QR codes for you?

Depends on what you need them for. They are quite solid when it comes to inventory management, as a better version of the old bar code. They can also be used to easily provide instruction manuals  or verify warranties on any kind of equipment.

For most marketing needs, QR codes are not that expensive to create and implement. You can try running an A/B test to check their effectiveness. They certainly don’t hurt to have, and 19% of consumers isn’t that low a number at all.

Practical applications for any enterprise

Bitcoin/ electronic cryptocurrency transactions

Inventory and document management

Time tracking

Links you might be interested in:

What Is A QR Code And How Does It Work?

10 Ways to Use QR Codes in Business Card Design

Ultimate Guide to Business Cards: Infographics and Other Resources

What do you feel about QR codes? 



Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.