2D Barcode Adoption Falsehoods

Posted by Roger Marquis on May 31st, 2011 at 10:40 am

In one article or trend report after another, two reasons are often used to explain why consumers might be slow to accept, and ultimately adopt, 2D barcode technology. The first reason has to do with the fact that there is no universal 2D barcode reader app, and the second reason has to do with the fact that a 2D barcode reader app must be downloaded in order for a code to be scanned. Here's why neither of these reasons hold much water (in my opinion).

First, in a recent study by The Neilsen Company, Apple iOS users had an average of 48 apps on their mobile device and Android users had an average of 35 apps on their mobile device. Of the 48 and 35 apps, respectively, I would wager that consumers have more than one app for news, more than one app for finance, more than one app for games, more than one app for social networking, more than one app for entertainment, travel, dining, etc., etc., so, why should it matter that there is no one (i.e., universal) 2D barcode reader app? To scan the vast majority of 2D barcodes in today's marketplace, all a consumer needs is a QR Code reader app and a Microsoft Tag reader app. Two apps out of 25, 30, 35, 40, etc., what's the big deal? If, however, the argument is that without a universal code reader app consumers would not know which app to use to scan a particular code and then they would simply not bother scanning, then I believe the real issue is with the advertisers. Advertisers should, as best practice, inform consumers which reader app is needed to scan the code used in their ads. At this early stage in the game, where codes are just starting to enter the mainstream, consumers should not have to figure out or guess which app to use on their own. Advertisers need to step up in this area.

Second, last I checked, a consumer needed to search, locate and download the app for Facebook, The New York Times, ESPN, Fandango or any other application that they were interested in prior to use so, why should it be any different for 2D barcodes? Yes, the process of searching, locating and downloading an app may be a hassle but, here too, if the advertiser is able to help the consumer the hassle becomes less so. Also, once the app is loaded the job is done. It's not as if this is a recurring issue or problem to contend with each and every time a consumer wishes to scan a code.

So much of 2D and mobile is based on the consumer/user experience, and advertisers must understand this and be willing to take the lead here, or else 2D barcode adoption will most certainly suffer. Let's not get lazy and blame it on the code reader apps or, even worse, the consumer.

4 Responses to “2D Barcode Adoption Falsehoods”

  1. renee says:

    This is a good, to the point assessment. What happens when a 2d is specifically "coded" and unique for tracing and traking use in real time?

  2. Richard Bramwell says:

    I have been disappointed in the bashing of QR codes. The QR code is easy for very small businesses to use, mainly because it uses simple hardware most people have (printer & smartphone/camera).

    Anything that requires RIFD implants will be much harder to use on a smaller scale. Google or other large companies may see an advantage in that technology, but that does not mean QR codes are somehow doomed - they are *different* is all. Let's promote their use by millions of small businesses and individuals.

    I wonder about the narrow thinking of the QR code bashers. Can they only think within the box set by the mega companies of the industry? The people who began those companies sure didn't think that way!

    • Richard:

      Thank you for the comment, but please know I am not out to bash QR Codes or any other 2D barcode for that matter. If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will know that I am very much in favor of 2D codes being used by businesses, big or small, but believe that the advertisers are the ones that will either slow down or speed up consumer adoption, much more so than a code reader app ever will. Meaning, advertisers have to use codes correctly (strategically and tactically) or else consumers simply will not be interested in scanning to begin with.

      With respect to other technologies, marketers must realize that they each serve a purpose and not all of them need to be used at any one time. Marketers must understand the technology first then apply it, again correctly from a strategic and tactical perspective.

  3. Mike says:

    QR codes are a fantastic tool for small businesses. If you've ever gone to look for a house to buy or rent, the fliers about the house are always gone.

    With QR codes placed on the yard sign the prospective buyer or renter can go to a webpage with multiple photos and information about the house. The real estate company now has a chance to retain a customer where otherwise they would have lost them because there were no fliers.

    How many other marketers could benefit from a wealth of information provided via a QR code? This a an area that needs attention from any serious marketer.

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