QR codes gain ground in UK

03 June 2011

LONDON: Shoppers in the UK are becoming more engaged with QR codes, images that can be scanned using mobile phones to find out information about goods and services, a study has revealed.

Research firm Kinetic Worldwide and mobile marketing specialist Joule, two units of WPP Group, surveyed 500 adults to gain an insight into evolving opinions and behaviours in this area.

They reported 40% of the panel expressed familiarity with these tools, which are broadly similar in appearance to barcodes, and 12% had previously "snapped" one via a wireless device.

Figures on the latter metric climbed to 20% for 18-24 year olds and hit 15% regarding the 25-34 year old demographic, but attained just 1% among 55-64 year olds.

A majority of interviewees were "open-minded" when it came to the potential of QR codes, with 37% agreeing they could be beneficial, and another 35% unsure.

Elsewhere, 49% stated a preference for receiving product vouchers or details through this route, 42% thought linking to a website would prove useful, and 26% hoped to view exclusive content.

Some 15% of men had actively engaged with a QR code thus far, measured against 12% of women, the study added.

In terms of the formats prompting interactions, packaging and advertising both scored 41%.

More specifically, 19% of respondents had scanned a code featured on a poster, with 9% scanning an equivalent press ad.

Going forward, the analysis suggested marketers should seek to educate shoppers about this aspect of their output, and achieve better integration into actual advertising creative.

The imperative behind such endeavours follows on from the fact that 43% of those polled argued they had neither seen nor used a QR code.

"While QR codes have been in general use in the UK for a relatively short time, their potential to play a significant interactive role in brand communications is becoming clear," said Richard Metcalf, business development director at Joule.

"It's clear from our research with Joule that younger consumers have been quick to integrate QR code interaction into their repertoire of digital experiences."

"More education and information is necessary if QR codes are to reach a wider audience."

Data sourced from Joule; additional content by Warc staff