Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2202
, Published on 17 November 2013
Albert Einstein once said “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler”. Be it any situation, function or profession, keeping things simple helps enormously in all facets of life. This aspect is very important especially in the field of marketing. Marketing has evolved leaps and bounds not only as a profession but also as an art. Though there is a continuous evolution but the endeavour is still to keep things simple and easy. ‘Customer Engagement’ is the buzz word these days. Marketers strive to seep into customers’ busy lifestyle and call them to action and hence it is imperative that marketers keep things interesting, engaging and easy-going. In the pursuit of same, QR codes found a chapter in the book of evolution of marketing.
QR code or Quick Response code is a type of Two-Dimensional bar code. It consists of black square dots in a grid on a white background forming distinctive patterns that can be read using a camera or a QR code reader/scanner. Quick Response Code system was invented by Denso, a Toyota's subsidiary, in the year 1994 and was used to track parts in vehicle manufacturing. Recently, QR codes have become largely popular outside of automotive industry because of their rapid readability, ease of use and greater storage capacity. Typically a smartphone is used to scan QR codes using an app; scanned code is then processed, interpreted and converted into meaningful data – more often than not a URL. Thus this has found usefulness in many applications such as entertainment, commercial tracking, ticketing, entertainment and most importantly consumer advertising. When it comes to communicating a value, a promotion or an offer, QR codes come handy as they are a lot of fun and easy to use. All a customer has to do is scan the QR code using his/her smartphone or any other device and once scanned the mobile app does the rest. Because QR codes obviate the need to type in a URL, it becomes very easy for customers to go-to a website/landing page and find out more about the product, promotion or offer. Marketers, now, just have to ensure that there is something very interesting, useful and hard-to-ignore stuff on the landing page for the customers. Since QR codes provide quick and easy access to URLs therefore they have become central to advertising strategies. Below are some largely successful and amazing ad campaigns that involve QR codes.
Emart SunnySale – The Shadow QR code Campaign
Emart is a Korea’s discount store with one hundred and forty one stores across the nation. It may be called the Korea’s WalMart. Emart faced a problem of drastically decreased sales during lunch time and they had to do something about it. The mission was to increase sales during lunch time from 12:00pm to 1:00pm and the idea was to give people a unique and fun lunchtime shopping experience. They installed Shadow QR codes that use the sunlight and shadow for creating a particular pattern and are functional only during lunchtime i.e. 12:00pm to 1:00pm. When scanned during the specified time, the mobile app directed to a landing page that had amazing offers valid only through lunchtime. If the customer likes the offer and makes a purchase then the purchased products are delivered at their doorstep. The whole process was simple, easy and fun and therefore this campaign resulted in an increase of 12000 coupons issued, 58% Emart memberships and 25% sales during lunch hours. Apart from this, the Shadow QR code Campaign received wide media coverage and as they put it – It made people ‘Sunny’ for the day.
Heinz – ‘Guess what we just planted’ Campaign
Heinz is a United States based food processing company popularly known for its ketchup. Not quite long back, Heinz had come up with a new eco-friendly packaging and to promote the same, Heinz place QR codes on their ketchup bottles that directed users to a mobile optimized site where customers could win prizes by answering a trivia question based on green knowledge. This campaign resulted into more than a million user scans and encouraged customer engagement of a fast moving mass consumer product. It took just a few weeks’ time.
L’Oreal QR code campaign during New York Fashion Week
The beauty and skincare company tapped QR codes to achieve increased sales and customer engagement during New York Fashion Week. L’Oreal put up QR codes inside taxis during NY Fashion Week. One may wonder how did this help? It was NY Fashion Week and the media houses were glued to fashion shows that promote fashion statements, new styles and beauty. Suppose a woman is travelling in the taxi with nothing much to do and she finds a L’Oreal’s QR code in there. This is a perfect example for a captive audience. When scanned, QR codes led to a landing page that had information on Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent products and also allowed to buy the products from the mobile site. According to L’Oreal, this campaign resulted into 7% increase in sales and 80% increase in app downloads during the five day campaign.
Recently, many giants like McDonalds, Coca-Cola and P&G have used QR codes to their advantage. But there are also quite a few examples of failed QR code campaigns. One such is by Guinness – a popular Irish dry stout and one of the most successful beer brands worldwide. Guinness placed a QR code on beer glasses that literally activated when poured full only by the Guinness beer. The beer is characterized by its black colour that fills out the code. Once scanned, the code lets a user to tweet, update Facebook status and download coupons and promotions. Moreover scanning also lets a user to invite his friends to join him. Prima facie this campaign seems wonderful but has many flaws; Guinness is not the only black beer, people really do not like to be called-to-action over a drink, it involves extra logistics and support functions to make it work and works only when the pint glass is full. Precisely these are reasons the Guinness campaign was only ‘half full’.
Though QR codes have so much potential, they cannot be placed anywhere and everywhere. The whole process should be made a delight and not a frustrating experience and therefore it is imperative that these fancy codes be put in right place and at right time. QR code system is no doubt a powerful tool for marketing because they can be used both to increase sales and establish a brand. As in physics current chooses the path of least resistance, similarly in marketing world, customers prefer least effort to be called to action. And this is where the strength of QR code system lies; it’s simple, easy and effortless to use. According to comScore, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android account for 87.6% of mobile platforms in smartphones worldwide. Apple and Google are yet to launch QR reader pre-loaded phones and when done, it is sure to increase the ambit of QR codes. With the advent of Google Glass, Augmented Reality and Wearable computers the use of QR codes may be made more fun, interesting and engaging. The scope of QR code system will definitely grow with discovery of newer and sophisticated ways. Though marketing has been evolving since its inception but the scope of further evolution is ever widening because evolution is never equal to perfection, it’s only a step nearer to perfection each time.
This article has been authored by Shankar Shethe from IIM Kashipur