Sunday 22 April 2018

QR Codes: Are They Here For Good?

Originally posted on the goodpurpose blog.

QR codes—offline hyperlinks—were invented in Japan in the 90s, and in the past year we’re finally seeing them crop up everywhere in the U.S. Best Buy [disclosure: Edelman client] got on board last fall by adding QR codes to its product-information tags, and Macy’s followed suit in February with links to short videos and an educational component to teach the consumers how to use the codes. Last summer, the pixelated graphics were plastered all over Times Square.

The marketing implications are endless, as QR codes can link to almost anything: product information, tips, advice, videos, a Facebook page, website, or other related products.

So the next question is: How can they be used to promote purpose? Again, the possibilities are limitless. A QR code could link to:

  • A nonprofit’s website or Facebook page to learn more about the issue and/or partnership, particularly in the event that a portion of a purchase benefits a cause. Consumers could immediately learn how their donations help.
  • A volunteer sign-up or donation page.
  • Product or company sustainability information.
  • A page to redeem points for purchasing environmentally friendly products, which could then be used towards prizes or rewards. Similarly, the codes could be used to “check-in” when volunteering, generating rewards with participating partners.
  • A survey, petition, voting or crowdsourcing campaign.
  • Link to information on how to use the product more responsibly or efficiently, which would obviously vary by industry. With food products, the codes could pull up healthy recipe ideas.

Even more exciting than the notion of being able to instantly supply consumers with useful information or rewards is the myriad of ways the information can be relayed: through text, images, videos, games, downloads and more, all of which could then be shared via social networks.

Of course, I also predict that we’ll see technological developments overtake QR codes. Ben Jerry’s [disclosure: Edelman client] Moo Vision doesn’t need a QR code to recognize certain pints and pull up augmented reality images and information about the product. But whether or not smartphones need a specially designed graphic to access information, these offline hyperlinks are here to stay. So how can we use them to creatively promote purpose? We hope you’ll leave more ideas in the comment section below.

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