The Resurgence of QR Codes

QR codes are back in the US. The difference is, now everyone knows how to scan them. Are you using this technology in the most meaningful way?


QR codes once seemed relegated to the annals of tech history, at least in part. While they remained popular in some areas, they quickly fell into what looked like an early grave in the United States. And yet, QR codes are experiencing a remarkable resurgence. The revival began in earnest in 2021, with QR code usage skyrocketing by more than 400% compared to the previous year, resulting in over 80 million scans. The resurgence of QR codes signifies a paradigm shift in how we shop for, learn about, and interact with products. Yet, despite this revival, the frustration with QR codes persists. Users often find themselves uncertain about the content they will encounter when scanning a QR code—a bit like playing roulette each time. Customers no longer want to gamble with QR codes; they demand clarity, relevance, and engaging content. This blog delves into the resurgence of QR codes, the challenges they face, and the path to providing consumers with the dynamic and personalized information they crave.

**The QR Code Revival: A Journey Through Time**

The resurgence of QR codes may feel like déjà vu for some, as these scannable codes have made a comeback after their initial appearance in 1994. While they had a brief moment of prominence in the mid-2000s, particularly in the United States, their low adoption rate at the time limited their impact on businesses and consumers alike. Their resurrection was likely initially caused by covid, but as the tide of the pandemic retreats QR codes seem to be here to stay. The resurgence, driven by evolving consumer behavior and technology, has redefined its role in the digital landscape.

**QR Codes: Back with a Vengeance**

In 2022, QR code usage surged to unprecedented levels, recording over 80 million scans. The QR code is back with a vengeance, but its triumphant return comes with a caveat—users' expectations have evolved. No longer totally satisfied with mere redirection to a website's homepage or basic product information, consumers seek further depth and relevance in the content delivered through QR codes. To meet these expectations, companies must navigate a path that balances technology with user experience, providing value and engagement with every scan.

**The Challenge of QR Code Roulette**

One of the persistent challenges associated with QR codes is the uncertainty surrounding their content. Users are often unsure about what awaits them when they scan a code. Will it lead to generic information found on the product label? The company's homepage? Oftentimes QR codes on products aren’t even meant for the consumer, they’re meant for tracking, shipping, or internal company information. This incredible unpredictability has resulted in what some describe as "QR code roulette," a game of chance that leaves consumers frustrated and dissatisfied.

**The Three Pillars of QR Code Trust**

To overcome the mistrust and irritation associated with QR codes, and to maximize the possible benefits, companies should focus on three crucial elements:

1. **Branded QR Codes**: Branded QR codes are designed to attract consumers' attention. As with all effective branding tools, they keep your marketing tight and your representation clear across all products. They also serve as a visual indicator that the content behind the code is relevant to the brand or product, and communicate to consumers that the information behind the code is meaningful. This little change in generic versus branded helps build trust and ensures that users feel confident about scanning codes because they know they are meant for them.

2. **Strong Calls to Action (CTAs)**: A well-crafted call to action is essential to catch the user's attention and convey the purpose of a QR code. Whether it's "Scan for Exclusive Offers" or "Learn More About Our Sustainable Practices," CTAs serve as signposts, guiding users toward the intended experience. Without a CTA customers will still have to wonder if the QR code on the package is really for them and if it’s worth engaging with.

3. **Excellent Content**: The most critical element in combating mistrust is the content delivered through QR codes. It should go beyond what customers can readily find on the product label. To captivate and engage users QR code content should offer in-depth information, personalized experiences, and meaningful rewards for their engagement. In a world where content is king, nutritional facts and generic brand information fall short of meeting consumer expectations. While basics are an excellent jumping off point, deeper information is often where it’s at for curious customers.

**Personalized Content: The Next Frontier**

As we continue to explore the resurgence of QR codes, a crucial question emerges: What do customers want to know, and how can companies provide this personalized content to millions of consumers while making each individual feel uniquely catered to? This is the sizable challenge businesses need to tackle to fully harness the potential of QR codes. In further articles, we will delve into the strategies and technologies that can help companies create personalized content that resonates with consumers, ushering in a new era of QR code engagement.

**The Future of QR Codes**

The ongoing QR code revolution is a testament to their enduring relevance in an ever-evolving digital landscape. This revival brings with it higher expectations from consumers who seek clarity, relevance, and engaging content, and they deserve it! Companies that master the art of branded QR codes, craft compelling calls to action, and deliver excellent, personalized content will emerge as leaders in the growing QR code space. Companies cannot afford to fall behind on the technological front, and while not everyone wants to be an early adopter, the QR code has moved well beyond that stage, it’s clear that they are here to stay.

As you work to make your decision please be sure to check out our other articles where we discuss and explore the strategies and technologies that can help businesses meet these expectations and usher in a new era of QR code engagement. The future of QR codes is bright,especially if businesses evolve to meet the demands of their customer base, and nurture the curiosity their consumers have about their products and services.