Can QR codes work for luxury brands?

Brands have been using QR codes in out-of-home ads, mailers, in-store and catalogs to measure ad efficiency, drive traffic to stores and increase conversions to entice affluent consumers.

Mobile bar codes can be helpful for brands whether they are hotels, cars or retailers. This has been proved by companies such as Michael C. Fina, Norma Kamali, Neiman Marcus, Audi and Bloomingdale’s which have used QR codes in out-of-home ads, mailers and in-store.

“Because QR codes are easy and convenient to scan and offer immediate return on interaction, they improve the chance that a consumer will engage with the brand’s campaign, and perceive that interaction as valuable,” said Laura Marriott, CEO and acting board chairperson of NeoMedia, an Atlanta-based 2D bar code solutions company.

In this Q&A, Ms. Marriott discusses the merits of QR codes, their place in the multichannel arena and key best practice. Here is what she said:

How do QR codes make out-of-home ads more measurable?
QR codes make out of home advertisements more measurable by providing a quick and easy response mechanism for consumers.

Every time a consumer scans the mobile bar code embedded within the ad using the camera on their mobile device, the brand is able to extract valuable data on the number of scans or click throughs.

he resulting analytics enable them to measure statistics around the consumer’s interaction with the advertisement such as time of day, location and duration of interaction.

In some cases, information about the consumer can also be provided, offering brands the opportunity to run more targeted campaigns and return information to the consumer based on their demographics and preferences.

How do QR codes add value to a brand?
QR codes add value to a brand by offering engaging multimedia content or services via a device that people carry with them all the time.

Firms can activate their brands and make them so much more engaging, immersive and interactive than a simple advertisement, enabling consumers to experience the brand through more than just a single image, and take part in interactive communication.

Moreover, embedded QR codes use only a fraction of the advertising inventory space, allowing brands to pack more information into a smaller space and gain better value for their advertising initiatives.

Bloomingdale’s is running a campaign using QR codes and SMS call to action on phone booths. As an industry player, what do you think about this strategy?
Only Bloomingdale’s can answer questions about their strategy.

But speaking for brands generally, the inclusion of QR codes in out-of-home advertising is generally motivated by the ability to activate traditional and digital media by providing an opportunity for the consumer to engage directly with the brand at time of viewing – whenever and wherever they are.

Because QR codes are easy and convenient to scan and offer immediate return on interaction, they improve the chance that a consumer will engage with the brand’s campaign, and perceive that interaction as valuable.

QR codes also enable a brand to offer the consumer more information which will ideally then help to inform or incentivize a subsequent purchase decision.

Moreover, this information can be updated in real time as the offering changes, allowing advertising and promotions to be updated without cost implications.

What are some best practices when using QR codes in different marketing channels such out-of-home ads and mailers?
Plan ahead
Mobile bar codes should be an integral part of the overall campaign, incorporated into digital and traditional media as a key element of the campaign rather than being added as an afterthought. This will help to ensure that the vital element of interactivity is brought to the campaign.

A plan for longer term consumer engagement should also be established as part of the overall campaign objectives. There is no point in establishing an interaction and then not following up and maintaining the dialogue with the consumer once the link has been created.

Offer value
Consumers generally only opt in to receive communications from brands when they perceive that it will be of value to them – whether that be in financial terms by means of giveaways, discounts or in less tangible services based on entertainment and utility.

Access to relevant content, discount coupons or exclusive information can all work well to grab consumer attention and encourage interaction. This tried-and-tested marketing strategy is a great way to increase your user base and will promote user participation in your campaign.

Thus, ensure that your integration of QR codes includes value for the consumer in a manner that is suitable for your brand and campaign.

Design and placement
To ensure a strong response from consumers, the design of the advertisement is of paramount importance. The bar code itself should be given as much consideration and attention as other elements of the ad’s overall design.

In order to grab consumer attention, the placement of the QR code should be in a position which makes it easy to identify and scan.

The bar code should be placed in an area of prominence on the page, on a flat surface and avoid placing the bar code between folds in the magazine, for example, as this will hamper scanning.

If at all possible, the bar code should also be printed in black and white to ensure ease of scanning with the majority of mobile devices and bar code readers.

To ensure the user experience is as good as it can be, it is important that brands and agencies work with global, open standards in their bar code deployments. The deployment of proprietary solutions may limit consumer access or market penetration.

Educate the consumer
Generally, consumers are willing to engage with new technologies, but marketers must be ready to educate and make the move into the perceived unknown as simple and straightforward as possible.

The newness of bar codes to the mass market means that brands need to consider placing descriptive copy next to the bar code, explaining what the code is, how it is used, how to download a reader to scan the code and what it will provide them with.

This will help to facilitate and encourage consumer participation.

Test and test again
Consumers will be deterred from using bar codes if they have an initial unsatisfactory experience.

There have been instances where links from bar codes have resulted in no content being displayed, which is damaging not only for the campaign, but for the future of bar code marketing.

To ensure the greatest degree of success and ongoing consumer participation, the bar codes that are generated for a promotional piece should be tested using a variety of scanning software and mobile devices.

It is also essential to ensure that the mobile pages or application that are linked to a code are optimized for mobile viewing to guarantee consumer satisfaction.

Analytics: evaluate your campaign
Leveraging analytics can provide vital insight on the campaign including usage at specific times of day and locations. Allowing brands to make better advertising purchase decisions and ensure optimal utilization and communication of their message.

The importance of tracking QR code campaigns for marketers should not be underestimated.

The ability to measure and analyze the data determines success rates, and ROI helps to shape future campaigns and ensure consumer engagement.