The QR Code Hype Cycle Revisited

QR codes are now everywhere

It was a year ago to the day that I wrote The QR Code Hype Cycle and suggested that that QR Codes in the USA and Europe were in the ‘frenzy of publicity’ phase which is typified by over enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. The positive hype continued throughout 2011 and early 2012 and I now believe that we are at the peak or very slightly over the peak of the cycle. This does not mean that the number of users of the technology will decline, quite the contrary first time usage will continue to rise as consumer smartphone adoption increases. What it does mean is that there will be a slow realization that enterprises’ and the media’s overinflated expectations are not being met. Negative press will increase and media interest will wane.

If you are a marketer there are two things said in the post a year ago that are worth repeating. Firstly in Japan QR Codes are ubiquitous but the Japanese scanning consumer will scan a QR Code less than five times a month – think about it. Secondly QR Codes that provide deep discounts, free samples, exclusive content etc., may increase sales but the number of scans and conversions will depend on the value of the offering.

Design your QR Code campaign carefully, provide as big a reward to the consumer as possible and even then be prepared to be underwhelmed by the response. Not everyone with a pair of scissors cuts coupons.

4 thoughts on “The QR Code Hype Cycle Revisited”

  1. Dear Roger,

    Interesting comment about the hype cycle of the QR code. My opinion is that the “frenzy of publicity” curve verticality depends a lot on the curiosity of the people “What that heck is this square which i am supposed to scan?” the number of users with smartphones and age.

    Nevertheless not all countries in Europe, even now, I believe have reached the top of the curve (not even the 1/3rd towards the top, and for sure there are some opportunities there if there is some creativity on the campaign.

    Is there any survey on the usage of QR code per country in the Europe region?

    Kind Regards,
    Aristotelis Sdrolias.

  2. I also think the future or QR codes are depending on the right use of them. I’m QR-minded and out of curiosity I scan quite some codes when I encouter them, but most of the times I’m let down: the QR-code just leads to the main corporate site which sometimes/mostly isn’t even mobile compatible.

    If an average user after 4 out of 5 scans see that that strange squared code resolved into only the main company site, he will not scan so quickly again.

    So if you put a QR-code somewhere: tell the user what he’s going to see. If it’s leading to your company site, place a text right below the QR-code. If it’s a discount code or a link to a specific product page, say so! Don’t just slab a QR-code on your advertisement to make it hip or someone said so.

  3. Like all novolties it has ups and downs. Being an old barcode 1D follwer, I have lived the experience of UPC and EAN. Even after 60 years it is still work fine.

    2D is coming in handy but the trick, I think, is how you use the code and I think there are infinite applications that need to be exploited.

    I thnik QR Codes need team work to have major success and that is our approach. Only time will tell.

    Frank Pelling

  4. I agree that this will die down as I have been watching them closely in Japan. Although Maze QR’s are becoming more visible in Europe as opposed to the standard ones, and I must say I like this concept (easier on the eye) and see that as something that will give this craze a few more breaths.

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