QR code case studies2011-07-11
A Business Insider post last week took QR codes to task, arguing they “can be confusing and can waste time. And as mobile technology progresses, they probably aren’t even necessary.”
The post, by former Forbes writer Dan Frommer, listed a variety of issues with QR codes to support the argument that communicators and marketers shouldn’t waste their time with them. Not a single one of those points was supported by statistics or research; it was just personal bias and opinion. I made that point in a tweet, noting that, on the flip side, I’d read a variety of case studies showing that QR codes work just fine.
A few people asked for examples, so I figure it’s worth summarizing some case studies here.
Chevy Volt and Cruze
At the 2010 South by Southwest event, GM showcased its new Cruze and the electric Volt, displaying 15 different QR codes on pre-production models on display. Scanning the codes opened a microsite featuring the car’s attributes. Scanning the code on the Volt’s hood produced information on battery life.
GM estimates that 2% of the people attending SxSW Interactive (about 2,400 people) scanned a QR code and and 8.5% of those scanned the QR codes on multiple cars. Blog posts, tweets and other media content mentioning Chevy’s use of QR codes at SXSW racked up 1,680,230 impressions.
On behalf of a customer, the printing franchise developed a QR code campaign to heighten awareness of a condominium building the owner needed occupied as soon as possible. A direct-mail postcard included the QR code, which led to a website containing floor plans, photos and other condo information.
The results don’t separate responses between the QR code and the toll-free phone number, but the campaign produced a 3.2% response rate (148 people) and an 18% sales conversion rate.
Source: Sir Speedy
This Australian franchise organization included a QR code as part of a contest in its catalogue—entering the contest via QR code made participants eligible to win a laptop.
Twenty-five percent of householders entering the contest did so via the QR code, and 60% of those took the time to download the QR code scanner (the contest included information on how to get one). According to one report, this suggests that not already having a scanner—and the time and trouble required to download one—isn’t a barrier (one of the arguments Frommeer made).
Mountain Dew, Taco Bell and Frito Lay
Note, Mountain Dew and Frito Lay are PepsiCo companies; PepsiCo is one of my clients for internal communications consulting
Mountain Dew and Taco Bell partnered for a promotion in which customers could scan a QR code on drink cups in order to get free music downloads. By late March, the campaign had generated nearly 200,000 QR code scans.
Source: Anthony Cerreta
George Bowers Grocery
This Virginia specialty food shop displayed a QR code that simplified the Foursquare checkin process—scanning the code took users direcly to the George Bowers checkin. Users were drawn to the display—posted in the downtown Staunton area, at the shop and on Facebook—by the headline, “Welcome to the future!” At the store, users could see demonstrations of how to use the scanner.
The effort resulted in a 302% increase in mobile phone traffic to the store’s website and a 25% increase in monthly Foursquare checkins.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
During a performance by OddFuture on Fallon’s late-night talk show, Fallon displayed a QR code. He didn’t reference it or explain it—he just held it while the camera zoomed in on it. It linked to the OddFuture website and a YouTube video embedded there. Users got through through a redirect from a page set up to track analytics from the code.
As of the end of March, the site had been accessed 14,001 times, 99% of those acceses coming from the QR code (as opposed to direct linking to the page). While that’s a negligible number, it strikes me that this was an experiment, given there was no explanation and no instructions. For that many people to scan a code just because they saw it on the screen strikes me as remarkable.
It’s all explained—including the results—in this video:
There are hundreds of case studies on how QR codes have been used by companies like Macy’s, Target, Audi and others, but I shared only those I found that included measurable results. I hope more organizations share the outcomes of their efforts.
Quickly, here are Frommer’s objections and my reactions:
- They’re confusing—I don’t find them confusing but I’m willing to believe some people may. But only once. After you’ve scanned a code one time, you’re completely savvy about how they work.
- You have to download the app—That’s true, but only once. You also had to download the app to use a video streaming service like Qik, but that didn’t stop people who wanted to use it. Now, Qik comes installed already on a number of phones. I expect the surge in QR code adoption will lead to scanners coming pre-installed on phones.
- There are better alternatives, like typing a complete URL—Yep, while I’m walking down the street, it’s easier to open a browser and peck out a URL than it is to open a app and scan a code. Seriously?
- It’s difficult to create and maintain QR codes—This one genuinely befuddles me. One of the key advantages of QR codes is the ease of creation.
- They won’t work where there’s no Internet connectivity—True, but neither will typing in a URL.
My only objection to QR codes is when they’re used without creativity or inspiration. But I do expect to see them proliferate along with consumer acceptance.
Do you have a QR code case study? Share it!