Mobile makes a mark with Japanese shoppers

09 June 2010

TOKYO: A majority of consumers in Japan are using their mobile phones to reclaim discount vouchers and find out more information about products.

According to figures from Netasia, the market research firm, 76% of mobile phone owners in the country have scanned a "QR Code" using their wireless handset to date.

These promotional tools, which are generally found on ads or fliers, automatically download coupons that can be scanned in store or launch a page on the mobile web containing more details about a brand.

Denso, a car parts supplier, pioneered this system in 1994 as a way to help it track orders placed by Toyota, the automaker.

It has since been employed by a broad range of marketers, with Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, and Louis Vuitton, the luxury specialist, among the most recent such examples.

Less positively, Netasia suggested that only 0.8% of Japanese shoppers have directly purchased goods and services in the same way.

Participating in this activity requires phones to be equipped with a payment chip that can be swiped in a similar fashion to QR Codes.

McDonald's is one company that has sought to leverage the possibilities offered by this approach, having formed a partnership with DoCoMo, the biggest network provider in Japan.

Customers visiting the quick service chain's restaurants can pay for meals by touching their phone against a reader on restaurant counters, with the cost then automatically being added to their bills.

QR Code promotions are not widespread in areas like the US and Western Europe as yet, although operating systems including Google's Android and Symbian are now utilising this technology.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff