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QR Codes Inevitable Rise in Western Society

Marketing | 19 Mar 2011

With QR codes already experiencing widespread use in countries like Japan, China, and Singapore one can’t help but wonder why they haven’t taken off in the west as well.

Every time I think of QR codes gaining a foothold in the west I’m reminded of the Greek character “Sisyphus” who has to push a bolder up a mountain. Just when he thinks he’s got it, he has to start all over again.

It’s no secret that westerners have always been “slow adopters.” We’re like an old man getting into a warm bath; it takes us time, but once we’re in, we never want to get out. The same phenomenon that is happening with QR codes happened with technologies such as CD’s, cell phones, and e-commerce. We were way behind the curve then, biting at the heels of countries like Japan and China, but today these forms of technology constitute the majority of our attention.

For westerners in particular the allocation of quick and painless information is extremely important. Most of us can hardly keep our attention locked on a full television show let alone cultivate the patience to save our questions for when we get back to our home computers. When we see something we want to know more about, we want to know it NOW. That’s why QR codes are ideal for the western mind- for quick allocation of information, there simply isn’t anything better.

For advertisers and internet marketers in particular there is endless potential for the QR code. They are an open source for advertising that cost nothing more than the paper they are printed on. The trick, I think, is to give users a tangible reward for pointing their cell phone at your code. Discounts, free music, funny videos, the options are endless.

One can’t help but wonder who will come up with the first QR code crop circle, or who will be the first to hack into Stephen Colbert’s website and slap one onto his forehead. I can already see people at sporting events holding signs with QR codes, or websites paying big money to have their QR code tattooed to the back of a mixed martial arts champion. With a little creativity it’s easy to imagine their potential.

At this point, the only thing hindering the rise of the QR code in western culture is our trepidation about anything new. It’s laziness that is causing us to drag our feet, but it’s that same laziness is what’s going to make it a central part of our futures. It’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when, and pragmatic Marketers would be wise to jump on board sooner rather than later. To learn more about how QR codes can help out your business, contact us.


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