What Are QR Codes?

A not-so-new development to help your business

Published in the January 2013 Issue Published online: Jan 25, 2013 David Fraser, Vice President, Industry Communicati
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You've seen them popping up on the pages of print advertisements, on the shelf tags at Home Depot and Best Buy and even on cereal boxes on your kitchen table. You may have even scanned a few to see what they're about and where they take you. But can they help you in your business?

We're talking about QR codes, a not-so-new development that is currently getting a lot of attention from the marketing world. Actually created by a subsidiary of Toyota in 1994, a QR code (short for Quick Response) is a two-dimensional barcode readable by a smartphone using free and readily available apps (popular examples include Zxing, Scanlife and BeeTagg). While the use of QR codes has become commonplace in Japan and Korea, they are just beginning to hit the marketing mainstream in the United States.

QR codes can be used to display text, add a vCard contact to the user's device, to open a URL and hence visit a website or specific webpage, to compose an email or text message or to join a loyalty program. They are most commonly being used in the retail environment to provide shoppers with additional information posted online, or to play video content stored online.

In a survey (QR Code Usage and Interest Survey, February 2011), 56 percent of consumers reported having seen QR codes on a product, 46 percent had noticed them in a magazine and 45 percent saw them on a coupon. Forty-nine percent of smartphone owners indicated they have scanned a code, with 53 percent of those users doing so to get a coupon or discount, 52 percent to get additional information, 33 percent to enter a sweepstakes and 24 percent to access a video.

Nielsen tells us overall smartphone penetration stood at 48 percent of the U.S. population as of January 2012. David Apple, CMO of Augme Technologies, a tech marketing agency, stated, "Once smartphone penetration gets to 60-80 percent...we will probably see a complete saturation of the market, and the QR code will be just as common as a URL on a piece of advertising."

So how can QR codes provide you with a United States Potato Board (USPB) Return on Investment (ROI)? By providing real-time information about USPB tools and marketing developments.

For the latest USPB trade press releases, the latest calendar of Potato Board events and U.S. Potato Update radio spots; get connected with these QR codes for iPhone, iPad and Android to the USPB's New Smartphone App.