17 Statistics on QR Code Marketing

Should you be adding QR codes to your marketing toolkit or is it all just hype? I wanted to know but most statistics I see are – ahem – slightly promotional (QR scans increased 2,340%!). Being a brand mechanic with a fondness for tools that work, I’ve been on the hunt for some real data and so I collected 17 stats on QR codes to share with you.

What is a QR Code?

Quick primer: QR stands for ‘quick response’ and it’s basically a new type of consumer-friendly bar code that offers faster decoding and higher storage of data. Think of it as a secret decoder ring you give your customers.

Usage of QR Codes:

  • 58% of people say they aren’t familiar with QR codes. (Lab42 survey of 500 respondents, Aug., 2011)
  • 64% don’t know what they’re for. (Simpson Carpenter survey of 794 online respondents, 2011)
  • 28% of smartphone owners have used a mobile bar code scanning application like a QR code. (Mobile Commerce Daily, Jan., 2011)
  • Overall, 11% have ever used QR codes (Simpson Carpenter survey of 794 online respondents, Sept. 2011)
  • 6.2% of total mobile audience scanned a QR code in June (Comscore)
  • 47% of people who did scan found them very useful, 20% said they don’t offer any real advantage and don’t plan on using them in the future. (Simpson Carpenter survey of 794 online respondents, Sept. 2011)
  • The data on which gender uses them is mixed but usage clearly skews younger and high-income.

Barriers to QR Code Usage:

  • 43% of those unfamiliar with QR code scanning said they don’t what QR codes are, 26% said they didn’t have a smartphone, 14% said they’d never seen one, 13% said they’re inconvenient. (Lab42 survey of 500 respondents, Aug., 2011)
  • 52% said they don’t have a device capable of scanning them. (Simpson Carpenter survey of 794 online respondents, Sept. 2011) This could mean either they don’t have a smartphone or they don’t have an app – or know where it is or how to use it.
  • 35% of now own smartphones and, along with tablets, usage is growing fast. (Comscore U.S., July) By 2015, it’s expected 200 million Americans – or roughly 2/3’s – will have a smartphone or a tablet. (Instat, Aug., 2011)

Reasons for Using a QR Code:

  • Top reason for scanning a QR code is to get a discount, followed closely by getting more info on a product or service (44%) (Lab42 survey of 500 respondents, Aug., 2011)
  • 82% expect to get a coupon or deal after scanning a QR code (Queaar.com, Sept. 2011)
  • More than half of people who scan barcodes said they did it while in a store to compare prices. 23% said they scanned to bring up more information on the product. The most popular items scanned are grocery (26%), followed by DVD & video games (23%).  (Mobile Commerce Daily, Jan., 2011)
  • In Japan, where knowledge and use of QR codes is much higher, the top reason to scan is to get a coupon (31.6%) or a special promotion (30.9%), followed by getting more product info (22.7%) (NetAsia Research, 2009)

QR Code Marketing Case Studies:

  • Kellogg put a QR code AND an SMS code on boxes to launch Crunchy Nut cereal. Scans of the QR code beat text messages 7 to 1 with 40,000 QR scans vs 6,000 messages to the SMS address resulting in 38,000 views of the video that was featured; a high conversion of engagement to views. All sounds great and it was a successful launch but – before you pour yourself a big bowl of QR code – Kellogg would have sold millions of boxes so engagement via QR code is likely a very small fraction and the tactic doesn’t seem to be repeated for other lines. (Source: Mobile Marketer, July, 2011).
  • Target, Home Depot and Best Buy have all adopted QR codes as part of in-store displays to improve the shopper experience with the latter using the number of scans to guide product marketing decisions.

My Takeaway

QR Codes vs URLs

  1. Clearly this is a medium that’s not quite ready for prime time. It’s growing fast but it’s early and it’s not mass.  New technologies are coming up that may leapfrog it by being more user-friendly and so shrewd marketers may want to sit out on the sidelines for awhile.
  2. There’s so many tools out there these days it’s increasingly important marketers understand what the use of each one for consumers. (For more on not having tool remorse, see my Internet Marketing Tool Time posts.) It seems primarily they’re finding QR codes a useful tool to get more information about a product at the point of purchase.  That’s a far cry from it being a useful addition to your magazine ad or billboard where, as someone said, it’s just an ad to see more advertising.

Hope this helps.

Do you have any other worthy – even contrary stats. We’d all enjoy learning from them.

Bob Nunn is an award winning internet marketing consultant based in Toronto passionate about marketing strategies that move the needle. Book an appointment to see how an 11-point check-up can get your brand revved up online.


Addendum: Came across a great little QR Code case study to balance out the Kelloggs example. Heinz ketchup is doing a second roll-out of a QR code program that got 1 million scans first time around. They put codes on bottles that go inside restaurants. The promotion coincides with Veterans Day and lets people say thanks to ‘Wounded Warriors’ with each message or ‘like’ earning 57 cents (get the smart branding?) to the cause. What makes this a strong program is the combination of cause with the insight that in a restaurant you have time to kill.

Bob Nunn

Bob Nunn is an award winning internet marketing consultant based in Toronto passionate about building brands by tuning-up their online marketing. He's the founder of Brand Mechanics; a new approach to marketing that provides clients with all the tools they may require but, through a thorough diagnostic approach, recommends only what they need.

More Posts

11 Responses to “17 Statistics on QR Code Marketing”

  1. Interesting post! And with the amount of QR codes out there right now, I’m sure many people would be surprised at the statistic that over half of people surveyed still aren’t familiar with them. Even though the data suggests that using QR codes certainly isn’t the best way to reach everyone, some types of businesses are going to reach more targets with QR codes than others will. QR codes definitely have their place and will probably continue to gain popularity, but you’re right that they may not be effective for everyone. At least, not yet!

    • Bob Nunn says:

      Yes for some businesses definitely will work: like Best Buy. The key is not get carried away by hype or ‘blind’ metrics like total scans; find out if your target has a use for it and your product.

  2. [...] 17 Statistics on QR Code Marketing – 64% don’t know what they’re for. Top reason for scanning a QR code is to get a discount, followed closely by getting more info on a product or service (44%). Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  3. Tim Rees says:

    It’s been a while since these statistics were published, it would be interesting to see whether another six months consumers and business owners are more aware of QR Codes and what they do.
    Where text based advertising space is premium QR codes offer value for money.

    • Bob Nunn says:

      Hey fair enough Tim. I’m interested too to see if there’s progress being made to change my mind. Will put it in the blog schedule so subscribe or come back soon.

      (Actually been working in an area close to yours with AutoTrader.)

Leave a Reply