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New Report Shows Low Adoption for QR Codes

Discounts are the primary reason consumers scan mobile barcodes

NEW YORK, NY (July 19, 2012)—Just 9% of adults in the US have used a QR code in the past year, and slow adoption is expected in the coming years, according to a new report by eMarketer.

Once a promising mobile marketing tool, mobile barcodes have not connected with large audiences, the report noted. While some US marketers have seen success, their experience has proven to be the exception, not the rule.

The new report, “QR Codes: Marketers Keep Hitting ‘Go,’ but Consumer Adoption Still Slow,” analyzes findings from dozens of third-party research providers and interviews with industry executives, answering key questions about the opportunities and challenges mobile barcodes present, including:

  • How do consumer adoption rates for mobile barcodes in other countries compare to the US?
  • Are teens any more likely to scan mobile barcodes than older consumers?
  • What kinds of retailers are more likely to see mobile barcode-scanning customers?
  • What factors could slow the adoption of near-field communication as a replacement for QR Codes?

As the number of smartphone users continues to rise, the total number of barcode users will show considerable growth, reaching nearly 38.6 million adults in 2014.

But these vast numbers of users are not making regular use of barcodes, according to multiple research studies analyzed by eMarketer in the report. For example, international mobile payments and marketing company Mobio found 60% of North American consumers who scanned QR Codes in Q3 2011 did so just once.

“What consumers want from their 2-D barcode experience and what brands deliver are typically at odds,” said eMarketer. “Consumers want deals and discounts. Brands want to deliver information.”

Key Takeaways from “QR Codes: Marketers Keep Hitting ‘Go,’ but Consumer Adoption Still Slow:”

  • Marketers’ use of mobile barcodes is only getting stronger, even though consumer interest in mobile barcodes has plateaued, with little indication of new audience interest on the horizon.
  • Poorly aligned consumer-brand expectations for mobile barcode-linked content and inadequate user experiences are driving consumers away from mobile barcode use.
  • Larger shifts in industry and mobile technologies may also whittle down mobile barcodes’ already lean repeat-user base.

“Until marketers move beyond the practice of pushing content to consumers via mobile barcodes, and instead give consumers what they want … many consumers will continue to consider their first mobile barcode experience their last,” said eMarketer.

About eMarketer
eMarketer is the authority on digital marketing, media and commerce, offering insights essential to navigating the changing, competitive and complex digital environment. By weighing and analyzing information from different sources, eMarketer provides businesspeople, marketers and advertisers with the most complete view of digital marketing available.

Media Contact:
Clark Fredricksen
Vice President, Communications, eMarketer
Tel. 212-763-6056

Posted on July 19, 2012.