Last week I joined again the most inspiring Tech Open Air Festival in Berlin.
Even though people of all shades come together, most of them unite, that they are yuppies and in touch with the latest trends.
The argument, which a young designer from Frankfurt told me on the roof top at Wooga Headoffices in Berlin, is less suprising:
„The QR- Code is out!“
Thereupon a illustrative discussion arose, about intent and purpose of QR codes and I would like to reflect some thoughts and expierences here:
Perhaps, as in this case, it is a benefit not living in a metropolis, neither being surrounded by early adoptern and trendy coevals.
From their point of view and technical absolutly comprehensible, the QR code is really no longer relevant. There are more elegant technical solutions and more possibilities with Image Recognation, Augmented reality, GPS, iBeacons or NFC and may be an even better user experience.
However, two of the most fundamental factors of success will thereby be forgotten or ar not experienced from some circles:
1. Most of all media contacts are still generated by huge, financially strong and oftentimes long-standing companies. Even if its about companies, which are open-minded about new technologies (which is much rarer according to my experiences, as you may think), it takes more time to transfer new technologies to real useful products as e. g. in a StartUp business.
For this reason QR codes are used not a bit in very reasonable fields of applications, as particularly packaging, displays or museums or do not bring any effective benefit. Due to interviews with the decision makers especially from the industry, we know that only now a reasonable use of QR codes on packaging or displays is considered and will be brought to market maturity. This year we will already see more products in gas stations, supermarkets or DIY stores, whose packagings are fit with QR codes and whose scanning will worth it and which is conform to the situation and small screen of a smartphone.
2. The User: The often mentioned disadvantage of a QR code is, that it looks ugly and ruins the nice key visual of the label. Image recognition and other technologies could be integrated „invisible“. Unfortunately invisible doesn´t exactly mean invisible: the user doesn´t expect automatically digital contents nowadays, which are stored in. Apart from that, special apps are required for all these techniques, which are often not installed on the smartphones of normal users. That means in the vast majority of cases users don´t even recognise that they can interact with information und in the case other apps must be installed, there is no time left in the short mobile contact moments. On the other hand the QR code clearly signals, that there is further available information and QR code readers are often installed on the smartphones by default. In the case that the QR code is fit harmonious in the keyvisual, which makes a counterfeit difficult and delivers exactly the desired information in a mobile optimised format, it not only helps optimally the user, but also the producer.
In order to learn, we scan many QR codes here and must unfortunately note, that they are really usable in very few cases. There are some good realisations in magazines as e.g. the editorial of Spiegel, Bravo or SportBild. The QR code often frighteningly links simply to the homepage of the producer in printing ads (not even mobile optimised), which neither delivers information that the user is looking for, nor being readable or operable. Even on the packaging of well-known producers the QR code is linked on the same picture or the link leads consequently to nowhere.
We would like to refer to two positive examples of packaging in this context:The Nutella glass: The QR code delivers every day a new funny comic, which is a gread idea as the Nutella glass is put every morning on the breakfast table. Daddy is reading the newspaper, the children are scanning the QR code on the glass have something to laugh about – new digital age.
Sonys packaging for camcorder: The printed QR code on the packaging links directly to a video, which explains in less than 5 minutes the connections and operation of the product. Great example!
In conclusion I would like to hold on: No, the QR code is not dead! The potential and use of the QR codes are also only used in the fewest cases, for which reason its appearance is a little dusty.
As the good examples show, the QR code still offers today the best possibiltiy to prepare your products, packaging and displays for the digital age and brings the customer a real added value. Therefore it is yet necessary to know the situation customers scan QR codes as well as the technical possibilites and unite this knowledge to a great user experience.
We are looking forward to supporting you for that matter!