I was in the grocery store the other day picking up the ingredients for a salad for dinner. I was in a bit of a hurry so I grabbed a bag of prepared greens to save some time. As I was checking for a sell by date I flipped the bag over and, sure enough, there was that fancy little black and white box. What are they and why are they showing up everywhere I go? A little investigation tells me that they are called QR codes and they just might be marketing magic!
A QR code (short for quick response code) is a two dimensional bar code that can hold a large amount of information in a small space. They can offer consumer discounts and sales info as well as corporate or even personal information. Although QR codes have been around for a while they are recently becoming a very popular means of dispensing this information.
If you use social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace you may have seen QR codes there. They are referred to as social QR codes. On social media sites there are many opportunities to visit business pages. QR codes will allow the placement of information on business cards and bumper stickers and will direct the user the social media pages for these companies. Restaurant QR codes might direct you to the Facebook page of the restaurant and give you the opportunity to “like” the page. This, in turn, will keep you up to date on promotions and events at the places you most like to frequent.
Free QR codes are available to anyone with a smart phone. Many phones come already enabled with code readers. If it is not pre-loaded it is a very simple task to download an app on your phone. Having this technology at your fingertips will make it easy to take advantage of the numerous offerings out there. While at the grocery store I took out my phone and scanned my bag of greens. While this particular code did not offer me a discount I did find out that the greens were grown at a local farm. This information allowed me to make a choice to support a local farmer instead of choosing a different product. The flip side of this possibility is that you might find some information that would lead you away from a product or business based on their practices and your own beliefs. QR marketing allows consumers the chance to learn about a business on the spot and can help us form educated opinions about the choices facing us.