· COVID-19 presents a shocking market disruptor, but QR Code marketing gives all businesses (regardless of size, industry, or location) a chance to adapt and flourish.
· Consumers are craving interactive interaction with companies, and a means to regain control in their everyday lives.
· QR codes are fast, easy, inexpensive, and effective in generating consumer interest to reclaim market share and accelerate growth.
· QR code marketing allows an efficient way to collect data and track how effective marketing is with a laser focus and allow marketers the opportunity to better understand customers and what ideas are resonating with them.
We have traditionally thought of market disruptors as pioneers like Uber and Lyft for the taxi industry, or Airbnb for hospitality. Causing such dramatic changes in their sectors, many now cannot imagine how the industries operated before their influence. They stand out among competitors and bring an added value to an industry that has been resistant to change. They are often seen as great things for consumers, although not so much by competitors.
These market disruptors have been nothing short of revolutionary. They have served as mass equalizers for they eliminated the barriers of entry for small businesses to enter into the hospitality and transport industries. Suddenly, someone with a few vacant flats and some personal initiative could rival behemoths like the Hilton Hotel chain or anyone with a car and some free time could challenge Yellow Cab.
These lucrative market disruptors have caused a paradigm shift, as in many places, they have made the traditional competitors go on the defense. These disruptors have caused a magnanimous loss of profits and need for rapid, and dramatic changes to ways of working. Companies have had to rethink how to operate in this new business environment or become extinct.
COVID-19 is an unprecedented disruption that has penetrated nearly every single sector and industry in nearly every country. From the very beginning, there were winners and losers, as some easily adapted, while others floundered and struggled to cope with the new reality. Suddenly, there was little choice but to join the monolith of companies working online and struggling to compete for the invaluable attention of consumers, now largely confined to their homes.
Yet, such a major market disruptor offers new opportunities for innovative changes to engagement and revenue. In many ways, we have a more captive audience than ever before. We have also adapted to the "new normal" and many of us have dramatically, and likely permanently, changed our habits.
Although the pandemic has resulted in catastrophic losses for many business owners, it has also resulted in exponential growth for others IN the SAME industry in the SAME location. The reason for these failures and successes has been because the latter believe that marketing is a science. As with all sciences, decisions can be dictated by data.
Data-driven marketing enables companies an opportunity to thrive in this new environment by understanding the rapid changes in consumer needs, desires, habits, and tastes. Seeing this as an opportunity, rather than a crisis, presents a great chance to tap into ground-breaking rapid market growth. There are ample opportunities to get ahead of competitors amidst the COVID chaos and secure a sizable market share through adapting and looking at the current situation in a different way and by implementing specific data driven marketing tools and methods. One of the most inexpensive and quickest ways to join this revolution is by using QR Codes.
Quick Response (QR) codes, are machine scannable, optical labels that hold data. QR codes frequently contain data for an identifier, locator, or tracker that links up to an application or website. These rectangles and squares are easily readable via imaging device, such as a camera on a mobile phone. They quickly link consumers to the virtual world, and expand the possibilities for marketing within all online and offline marketing channels. These QR codes are now omnipresent in our homes, offices, and lives.
QR codes instantly connect customers to specific web-content, which can quickly and effortlessly elicit an ad, key messages, videos, e-coupons, etc. Also, the act of getting consumers to use their own smartphones to scan a QR code makes the marketing ploy more interactive, and seductive, strengthening its allure as a "pull" marketing communication technique. The real advantage is that QR codes can be generated in seconds with no cost.
Due to their unique and subtle qualities, QR codes have been labelled a key pull-based communication tool that is extremely effective in influencing the consumer decision-making process. This is because consumers can proactively access relevant, additional information of interest almost instantly, and with little to no effort.
Pull-based communication techniques enable consumers uninhibited options for information retrieval, as opposed to more traditional push-based communication, which sees consumers as largely passive recipients of messaging.
Recent data also shows that consumers are aware of QR codes, and most have scanned one before in some setting. Furthermore, there is data-driven evidence to suggest that consumers understand the QR scanning concept via smartphone. New research also suggests that response rates among consumers are higher when using QR codes than they are through other approaches. This shows the potential importance of the "pull" communication method with QR codes because it creates a more user-friendly, engaging experience.
The two most recognized industries where QR codes are being used are the hospitality and food-service industries.
Restaurants are looking for innovative ways to put patrons at ease and provide the most touchless possible dine-in experience. Distribution of menus that have passed through many hands present a risk of community spread. QR codes allow a fast and convenient option to share menus that is 100% touchless. Consumers can scan the QR code with their phones and instantly load the menu to their personal screen. This can also enable quick-order options to maximize social distancing.
Hotels can use QR codes to enable touchless service to their guests in their restaurants or bars, to make room-service orders, or even to use other hotel amenities like the gym or spa. QR codes can also be used to take consumers to online schedulers to make changes to their bookings, or even to make payments and generate digital receipts. Through using QR codes, hotels and restaurants can provide service that is completely touchless, adapts to a market disruptor, and allows them to stay open and stay competitive.
The hidden secret is that the restaurant and hospitality industries are getting a wealth of new data about their customers. This includes their interests, habits, tastes, and other information. All of this allows for them to not only better understand their customers needs and desires, but stay ahead of any new trends.
QR codes are unreadable to the naked eye, but nearly everyone who has ever used a common mobile app would recognize one. As of 2019, globally, there were more than 2.5 billion mobile phone users. Strategically placed codes could easily pique the curiosity of consumers to scan the code and find out what its message is. This is especially true if the codes are paired with limited information that is of relevance and interest to a consumer.
There is huge potential for marketing success with QR codes when used in contextually appropriate settings and presented with sufficient information or messaging. For example, consumers may be unlikely to scan a code that simply reads "scan and see a preview" if there is no accompanying messaging. Yet if the code and the directive are presented beneath a sign advertising an upcoming movie or product that the consumer is interested in, they would be curious enough to quickly scan and access the messaging.
Another comparative advantage of QR codes aside from their speed is that anyone with a smartphone can scan them, with no need for installing a new mobile app. Consumers have grown weary of marketing and have developed their own feeling of "app fatigue." The installation of various apps has filled their phone's memory capacities and they are growing weary of marketing ploys that involve the installation of yet another app, even for easier access to services they use frequently.
QR codes cut out all of that, and enable a faster, and more convenient smartphone marketing method.
Some of the benefits of QR codes as a marketing tool are that they are highly inexpensive and quick to set up. They can be custom-made and set up in seconds. QR code marketing also presents an opportunity for companies to learn more about their consumers through a deeper interaction, and facilitate strategic market segmentation, at a very low cost.
Segmentation of customers allows for more strategic placement and use of QR codes. For example, putting them in bus stops and train stations gives something for consumers to do while they have a few minutes, and are likely looking for a welcome distraction from the mundane task of awaiting their transport.
Effective use of QR codes through segmentation of consumers and strategic placement offers a huge potential for targeted marketing to a broad audience. Especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are less likely than ever to open unsolicited mail or pick-up a flyer, and thus QR codes present a fast, touchless and risk-free marketing tool.
There are also ways to make QR codes more attractive. Through framing, adding different symbols or changing the colors; marketers can target appropriate demographics for their products by making the QR codes most attractive to their specific customers.
QR codes present a fresh way of interacting with consumers through a gentler means of pull-based communication. They speak the consumer's language and address some of the common barriers faced by marketers, especially app fatigue. Consumers are savvier about technology than ever before and treating many demographics as merely passive vessels of messaging is accelerating the fall of returns on investment. Consumers are eager for a more interesting, original and personal experience.
QR code marketing is also empowering to customers, because it allows them some level of control regarding the messaging that they consume. Rather than being inundated with messages, customers have the freedom to pick and choose the messages that they consume. They have power to scan, or not to scan, according to their personal preferences and interests. It should be noted that these choices that consumers make give valuable insight and data about their habits, interests, and tastes. Furthermore, your customers are more receptive to your message.
QR codes work well because of the high prevalence of smartphone use and the demand for new consumer experiences. Businesses are also able to see how often a QR code has been scanned, allowing them to do effective, inexpensive, and very specific market research.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the high use of smart devices offers a unique opportunity that may not come again. The best time to join the QR code revolution is now. People are ready to adopt new ways of going about their daily business and are already in a mindset of adaptation due to all the rapid adjustments we have all had to make. Consumers are eager for ways to keep themselves safe and are more likely than ever before to become early adopters of new marketing technologies that allow touchless options for them to enjoy everyday pleasures that they have missed since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Consumers are growing weary not just of push-based forms of marketing but also of the current interference in their lives and restrictions on normal activities. They are eager for any way to regain some personal power and freedom. The consumer choice that is presented through the use of QR codes is one of the breaths of fresh air and reclaiming of decision-making agency that is desired. As a result, QR code marketing allows an efficient way to collect data and track how effective marketing is with a laser focus and allow marketers the opportunity to better understand customers and what ideas are resonating with them. COVID-19 may have been a major market disruptor, but there is potential for using QR codes in your data-driven marketing plan to explode your company's growth, revenue, and market share.
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