QR codes key driver in 2012 holiday marketing efforts
By Rimma Kats
October 22, 2012
Many marketers are turning to various mediums to bolster their holiday marketing initiatives. However, QR codes will be the standout technology that will elevate those campaigns and take them to the next level.
Brands such as Target and Tourneau are incorporating mobile bar codes into their holiday initiatives as a way to not only interact with consumers in a different way, but also help increase revenue. Although there is an ongoing love/hate relationship with QR codes, there is no doubt that the technology will play a big role this year.
“We see lots of QR codes in typical marketing and advertising implementation, but more and more will be used to also activate mobile commerce engagements this holiday season,” said Laura Marriott, CEO of NeoMedia.
“With brands, like Target, getting creative with bar code implementations to drive sales and customer loyalty, we can expect QR codes to help facilitate the mobile purchase for brands and retailers alike,” she said.
‘Tis the season
Last month, Target announced that it would let consumers scan the mobile bar codes featured on several products in-store and buy the items via their smartphones.
Target is using mobile bar codes in-store to promote the season’s 20 most popular toys.
By using the Target mobile application, consumers can scan the QR codes and buy the items.
Additionally, Tourneau also announced that it would use QR codes this holiday season to let its affluent consumers learn more about its products in a more interactive way.
There are many ways marketers can use mobile bar codes this holiday season.
Take mobile rebate, for example.
Marketers can offer to send consumers money back if they buy a product from their mobile device when they scan the QR code.
This will encourage consumers to buy the product immediately, completing the sale.
“Also mobile layaways,” Ms. Marriott said. “Scan the QR code to allow consumers purchase and reserve items they plan to buy so it’s ready for pick-up at bricks-and-mortar locations..
“Keep the consumer buying in retail,” she said. “Showrooming is a significant issue in our space.
“The retailer can keep the consumer in-store by providing an experience that when a customer scans the QR code for a particular item, the retailer can provide content, they control, which provides review, feature, warranty information and instant coupons, which will work to keep the consumer buying in their store.”
According to Strategy Analytics, smartphones have reached more than 950 million consumers.
Furthermore, NeoMedia reports that QR codes have grown by nearly 120 percent from this time last year.
“Holiday shoppers this season have powerful devices at their fingertips and they want to leverage them to make their lives easier, especially to ease the chaos that inevitably comes with the holidays,” Ms. Marriott said. “Brands need to give them this opportunity, and QR codes afford that mutually beneficial opportunity that will bring consumers savings and drive sales for retailers.
“Brands that only use QR codes to bring consumers to a homepage or product page will not see significant success with the technology this season,” she said.
“Those brands who implement creative and strategic QR code campaigns to drive sales will reap the benefits as they ease shopping stress for consumers and turn those scans into purchases.”
Deloitte forecasts that mobile would influence $158 billion in the United States retail sales in 2012.
Mobile bar codes are great tools for creating a direct connection with consumers in-store.
“Subsequently we anticipate seeing them everywhere and that due to their reach and frequency, consumers will engage with them,” said Jane McPherson, chief marketing officer of SpyderLynk, Denver.
“Retailers, however, are just beginning to explore the range of digital solutions 2D mobile bar codes can activate, including save-to-card coupons, loyalty programs, purchase engagements and stickier promotions,” she said.
“Once retailers gain experience and begin using 2D mobile bar codes to activate more sophisticated, meaningful solutions for consumers, we believe that mobile bar codes will be used more for their functionality rather than just because of their overwhelming distribution.”
Digital experiences are meaningful everywhere and the portable nature of the mobile phone unlocks the ability for consumers to access digital experiences anywhere.
QR codes let consumers launch contextually relevant digital experiences, crafted by the marketer to meet the consumers’ needs.
Brands must think beyond the impression and extending the value of their media by serving contextually relevant, sticky digital engagements to meet their marketing goals.
“We see smart marketers moving beyond using mobile bar codes to serve consumers a Web site,” Ms. McPherson said.
“We see a movement towards marketers using mobile bar codes to serve consumers integrated experiences in which they can activate their mobile wallets, engage with their Facebook account, save coupons and take advantage of all the evolutions in a more meaningful mobile economy.”
Showrooming is becoming a huge issue for retailers.
However, with the help of mobile technologies, such as mobile bar codes, marketers can solve that challenge.
"Due to the showrooming effect, consumers will enter a retail store, check out the product and then leave the store and purchase the same product for less online," said Mike Wehrs, president/CEO of ScanLife, New York. "Savvy retailers are turning showrooming from a problem into an opportunity by using the mobile channel to engage shoppers, educate them about their products, and deliver relevant deals available only in the store.
"Increasingly their strategies center around QR codes as an easy way to bring shoppers to a controlled and extremely targeted experience," he said. "Brands, if not already doing so, need to start to think about how QR Codes can be used in more intelligent ways.
"It is critical than ever for retailers to provide an integrated shopping experience across multiple touch points through the path to purchase. For brands, QR codes are an effective way for retailers to close a sale."
Many marketers are using QR codes to drive in-store traffic.
For example, Home Depot places QR codes in circulars to deliver information on the weekly deals and highlighted products.
The codes deliver a mobile-optimized experience with videos and tips from the experts.
"Hewlett-Packard placed QR codes directly on their printers to give shoppers access to user reviews and offer advice on relevant accessories, such as ink cartridge packs for that specific model," Mr. Wehrs said.
"Starbucks has also placed QR codes on its coffee bags to give customers an inside look at the flavor profiles, source information, and other recommended roasts," he said. "This creates a more educated shopper, making it easier to buy a desired flavor of choice."
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