Should Marketers Ring the QR-code Death Knell?

September 3, 2013

Our neighborhood burrito shop uses a QR code for easy ordering.
By: Rachel
In the years since quick response (QR) codes first came onto the scene in 1994, many have dismissed the technology. Yet nearly 20 years later, QR codes still haven't disappeared. In all that time, though, many marketers missed the mark on where and how to use QR codes, and user adoption never skyrocketed.
Microsoft launched Tag in 2009 in an attempt to offer a more enhanced solution than QR codes for instantly transferring information to users' smartphones. This August, Microsoft announced it will throw in the towel; the company is planning to terminate the Tag service within the next two years. Its proprietary software system, lack of preloaded Tag readers on mobile devices, and the fact that QR codes caught on faster with retailers all contributed to Tag's demise.
So QR codes won out in this battle, but the question remains: Are they worthwhile or will they soon be a thing of the past?
Recently, there have been some cool new consumer applications of QR codes. For example, the sushi chef at Harney Sushi, a San Diego restaurant, is helping to stop the mislabeling of fish by adding QR codes to edible paper for diners to scan and see sustainability levels and natural habits of each fish. Another company, FinderCodes, is launching a QR-code-based lost-and-found system. People can order a kit of QR codes and attach them to their valuable items. When someone finds the lost item, he can scan the QR code, which sends a text and email to the owner, and the two parties can work out the return.
If these consumer-focused uses take off, they will help spur adoption among B2B audiences, as well. As FinderCodes Co-founder John Valiton told David Zax of Fast Company, “They've been misused for a long time. If I'm flipping through a magazine and see a QR code that just takes me to a retailer's website, I can type faster than I can scan the code. Whereas if the QR code is able to make something functional and usable, that adds extra value, then you have a reason to do it.”
As marketers and entrepreneurs finally make smarter use of QR codes, we can only hope talk of their impending death will die down.
Wondering how QR codes can boost your B2B marketing? Here are seven ideas.

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