Marketing to Women: How Many Use QR Codes?

August 22, 2011 § 7 Comments

I was sitting with friends in a restaurant in Florida and as the wine was served, I noticed it had a QR code.  Everyone wanted to know more about the wine, so I snapped a pic of the wine code with my smartphone and up popped a very informative page on the wine, its heritage and its favorite pairings.  What an immediate gratification!  Better than saving a cork that will get lost in the bottom of your purse.

As I look through my favorite magazines, product packaging and newspapers, I see QR codes everywhere, but are people actually using them?  According to a new study published in Advertising Age, it’s a pretty small number:

Four percent of magazine readers who noted ads with 2-D barcodes in the first half of this year actually took out their phones and snapped a picture at least once, according to GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research.

In comparison, some 14% of magazine readers went to advertiser websites based on an ad.

So who is currently using QR codes?  Men are a bit ahead of women, with 6% photographing ads, versus 4% of women.  And currently those aged 18 to 34 are more likely to snap a code.  However, I think those numbers will change as more people acquire smartphones that allow them to access codes.

This GfK MRI study lines up nicely with a ComScore study released on  code activation across all venues, including product packaging, posters, storefronts, brochures, TV, the internet, magazines and newspapers. ComScore finds that 6.2% of mobile users in the U.S. activated a code in June. People were most likely to scan codes in print and on product packaging, ComScore said.

The ComScore study also shows the user to more likely be make, young to middle-age and upper income.  Men were 25% more likely than the average mobile user to scan QR codes.  The mobile users are more likely to be affluent, with 36.1% with a household income of  $100,000 plus.  Among mobile users who scanned a QR code on their mobile devices in June, 58 percent did so from their home, while 39.4 percent did so from a retail store and 24.5 percent did so from a grocery store.

How Can QR Codes Be Effective?

•  Use QR Codes with new products or products that provide helpful usage instructions.  Examples like my wine experience points to the effectiveness of QR codes at point of purchase.

•  Specifications of products can also be easily provided.  I think all types of tech gear can benefit from this.  Also, think about healthcare and OTC products, and how you could provide lots of useful dosage and side effect information.

•  Attaching offers to QR codes will greatly enhance usage.  Allure’s “Free Stuff” issue saw readers recently scanning Microsoft Tags more than 200,000 times in just three days.

•  Store front and  point of sale usage might allow you to convert a store customer to an online customer.

•  Use QR codes to get likes on Facebook.  You can create mobile-friendly landing pages with Facebook like buttons.

•  Museums and other venues are beginning to use QR codes to provide more information about artwork and other types of exhibitions.  My daughter and I recently attended an art show in LA that was completely narrated through QR codes.

So get thinking about the creative ways to use QR codes and be ahead of the curve for once.  Some people think that by Christmas 2011, nearly 50% of all mobile phones will be smartphones.

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§ 7 Responses to Marketing to Women: How Many Use QR Codes?

  • Love this story. Some very innovative uses for QR codes are being tried with amazing success. We used it in a conference setting on a t-shirt. You got the shirt for free and kept clicking on it throughout the day for prizes. Our client’s sales out of their booth went up nearly 30 percent.

    You might also want to take a look at this link. This QR campaign won a Cannes Lion and revolutionized this company’s business:

    • Jamie Dunham says:

      Thanks Susan. I think that using QR codes in imaginative ways will certainly heighten their use. But I guess where you put the QR code is important on a t-shirt! Fun stuff.

  • Great Article! QR Pal is a new QR Code scanner which launched only 2 weeks ago. We have had over 2000 scans and users in this short amount of time, and have found that 78.4% of our users are male! Thought you may be interested in these stats.

    Download QR Pal for free today via and help us improve female usage!

  • Etinosa Murphy Obanor says:

    Great post, many online and offline marketers need to keep an eye on new marketing techniques as it is ever changing and evolving, this post offers a great insight into QR codes which until now I never realized could be useful in promoting the accessibility of product information.

  • Imali says:

    The rate of impulse buying amnongst women is far higher than men, which could account for the figures.

  • Dez says:

    I’m not a woman(well, last time I checked that was true) but I find that, if there’s a QR code on something, I’ll scan it even if I’m not interested in the product. I just like using the technology.

    Unfortunately, I find that the way Google Goggles handles QR codes is often clumsy and I tend to give up when it either fails to take me to a website or refuses to save the QR code for later, when I am at home.

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