The Fall and Rise of QR Codes in a COVID Reality

By Chris Browne

In 2012, the QR code became a standardized function on most mobile phones. This function came with promises of expanded content and a seamless user experience ushering in a new era of mobile tech. Then a couple years went by and QR codes were pretty much gone as fast as they came. Now, that is not to say they were not useful but maybe, just maybe, the world was not ready for them yet.  

QR Codes and the User Interface

Consumer experience with QR codes in the past was usually a forgettable one. They never really seemed to take off with users. The reason for this stemmed from their lack of usability. Marketing flyers used QR codes to take readers directly to a webpage. Otherwise, you’d have to manually type out the whole URL. While this sounded great in concept, it involved users having to download a specific app in order for the QR code to be read. By that point, you’d already lost the interest of the flyer holder. Fast forward a couple years and a bit of development, phone manufacturers solved the QR code dilemma. Today, all you need to do is open the camera on your phone, hover over the code and a notification will pop up asking if you want to be taken to the webpage. 

COVID and The QR Code

Enter the COVID pandemic and the rise of the almighty QR code. The way we live has been drastically altered over the past year and a half and we still don’t know how long the implications will last. To be as hands- or touch-free as possible, companies, restaurants and even the healthcare industry scrambled around for an effective solution. This, unperceived by the world, was the time for QR codes to shine. Instead of physical menus while dining, you simply scan a code to bring up the menu on your phone. Say goodbye to pamphlets at museums, you can now hover your phone camera over a code in every room to listen and read about the history. Basically, the QR code has regained its footing as a relevant player in the ever-evolving digital landscape. 

The Future of QR Codes in Marketing

Unquestionably, the QR code is, at the moment, here to stay. Platforms such as Instagram have launched a QR function that directs scanners to a specific profile. Businesses and brands have begun making the most of this in their print advertising. Similarly, WhatsApp is adding a new feature to the app that will allow you to add contacts by scanning your own unique QR code.

It will be exciting and even more interesting to see how the QR codes develop in the future. Already, workplaces are adapting to using them as a way of tracking who is and isn’t in the office. This also accounts for any visitors who would, in the past, manually fill out their details either on paper or on an iPad. How QR codes develop over the next few years could be huge for the marketing sector. The question still remains, will they still be used once the COVID-19 pandemic is a thing of the past? 

How we most often use QR Codes for clients

At Foundry, we have been using QR codes strategically for years. Yes, lately we have been creating a lot of QR code replacements for physical brochures and menus for a hands-free engagement that keeps our advertisers’ customers safe, but we are also launching captivating video and rich media experiences that are launched directly from print advertising campaigns. We are also taking event registration to the next level by keeping it touch-free and a breeze to sign up. Most exciting, we are linking to creative custom landing pages that take viewers on a seamless transition from print to digital and further down the conversion funnel. We are doing all we can to maximize this channel for growth because we know, at least for now, QR codes are here to stay.