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QR code usage grows 1,200pc in second half of 2010: report

February 24, 2011

Mobio claims that the Ottawa Heart Institute telethon was the first to use a mobile-bar-code call-to-action

During the last six months of 2010 QR code scanning increased 1,200 percent across North America, according to a report from mobile payments and marketing company Mobio Identity Systems Inc.

The report found that demographics such as Generation X and female users overindex, and it also tracked a dramatic increase in QR code-enabled mobile payments. Facebook and Twitter have also been integral to the explosion of the QR code phenomenon in Canada and the U.S., according to the report.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Mark Binns, chief marketing officer of Mobio, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Here is what he had to say:

What is the key finding of the report?
The key finding is the staggering growth of QR bar code scanning.

I think everyone in the QR industry expects and believes that QR bar codes are growing in popularity, but to find 1,200 percent growth in just six months really stood out.

The most surprising finding?
The most surprising finding was the dominance of women in QR scanning. They are driving the industry right now.

What advice can you give to brands, retailers and merchants based on the current state of the mobile bar code ecosystem?
Get involved. Consumers love to scan QR bar codes.

The cool factor still exists, and people are scanning QR codes just to see what is behind them.

There is a huge opportunity for brands and retailers right now to exploit the wave of interest in QR by using codes in their advertisements, stores and online properties.

Brands can gain new eyeballs and customers through QR right now and create an interaction with consumers in the mobile space. My advice would be to move quickly.

Should brands and retailers consider integrating mobile bar codes in their marketing initiatives, on packaging and/or at the POS? What are some use cases where they could be effective?
Absolutely. All three areas are very valuable places to interact with your customers.

Print and TV marketing campaigns are traditionally static media.

By adding a QR code to a marketing campaign the brands are creating interactive media. They can deliver video, Web properties, digital coupons or even sell their products directly through a formerly static media.

For packaging, the opportunities are vast.

One use case is to deliver recipes through the QR code, for example, scan the QR code on a bag of pasta and receive instant recipes using that product on your phone.

Finally, at the POS, QR codes can be used for loyalty. When you walk up to the checkout, scan the QR code to see if you instantly win or receive additional value.

A coffee retailer could offer free coffee to every 10th person to scan the bar code at their checkout throughout the day, all while collecting valuable customer data.

Could a B2B mobile ad campaign be a good way to raise awareness of mobile bar codes services and drive adoption?
Definitely. The more big brands that embrace QR technology and promote it through mass-media campaigns, the faster all participants in the QR bar code ecosystem will win.

As the consumer base installs QR readers through awareness, campaigns will become more effective for merchants, which will encourage more merchant use and acceptance, and the cycle will continue.

Based on the current trajectory of QR adoption by merchants and consumers, I think the QR industry is really just getting started.

Final Take

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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