There's a good deal of excitement about QR codes at the moment. In fact we even designed a label for good friends the Yeastie Boys Digital IPA that is basically all QR codes, with 6 of them scannable taking you off into their virtual world.
Putting aside the fact that these would work better in a New Zealand where we all have smart phones and WiFi was omnipresent - data plans are unreasonably expensive and are you going to waste your precious 3G scanning a poster for University education at a bus stop? - QR codes are an undeniably great way to channel people into an experience…
But what will that experience be?
Too often I'm scanning a code to be taken to a site that's not optimised for mobile, and has no real intrinsic value. Sure, QR codes can take you to a website, but what else can they do for you?
If you sell a product or a service, you could send people off to a video on how to use said product, or how to assemble that pesky bookshelf. You could link to a review page for the product, with an incentive for filling it out. You could funnel people into a newsletter sign up and send them a voucher for their next purchase. Stores are beginning to use them to speed up checking in on FourSquare, which is a nice touch.
Movie trailers are obviously a big thing at the moment, although when the explanation in the Press each week on how to scan a code is twice as big as the barcode itself I'm wondering about the conversion rate.
Probably one of the more interesting uses is by Diesel. The clothing label has added QR codes on their signage specific to each product instore. Like a pair of jeans? Well scan the code and "Like It" on Facebook. See other products, post to your wall and share your recommendations with your friends. But even this usage is a little remedial, pandering more to the need to "like things" and a moment spent with the comments from their Youtube video shows that some people see it only benefitting Diesel's profile and not really offering anything to the consumer - remember social is a two way street!
QR codes certainly offer some interesting opportunities to create engagement with your audience. The key thing is to create an experience that adds value and that has some conversion goal. It will be interesting to see the evolution of their use and function as time passes, in the mean time I'm sure I'll continue to be as frustrated as I am compelled to scan every QR code I find!