Your Competition Used QR in 2019. Should You?

Karen Kelly

January 2 2020

QR marketing brand activation gamification

After a month of cookies and cocktails, we’re all a little belly up at our desks on January 2nd. But I bet in the torrent of holiday advertising, gifting and packaging, you probably came across a few QR codes.

At the start of the year I would come across one every few weeks, but by December I started to wonder if it was just my day job or if QR was actually popping up everywhere.

I decided to challenge myself to make a note of every place I saw QR over the holidays:

And managed to grab a few photos.

So, good news, I’m not crazy. 2019 is the year QR came back to life.


Brands have realized a few things:

1. QR no longer requires an app – smartphone cameras have built-in scanners.

2. By removing the friction of an app download, engagement is much higher.

3. QR is agile and can be an instant access point from anywhere.

4. Gamification and incentive-based marketing strategies are easy to deploy through QR.

Customer acquisition costs continue to creep north despite bigger marketing budgets, which makes flexible technology like QR very appealing.

When there's a clear CTA for scanning that’s focused on consumer desires or needs, these brands are proving that QR can be highly effective in eliciting engagement.

AdAge recently interviewed Todd Kaplan, VP of Marketing at Pepsico, one of the biggest brands leveraging QR right now. He talked about their shift in attitude towards real world branding in 2019.

"Rather than start with your brand objective, start with what’s happening in culture by listening to the consumer."

Pepsi leveraged QR as a quick access point this year for a variety of brand activations and packaging-based messaging that specifically targeted known consumer interests and motivations.

These initiatives drove interaction with the brand and provided an easy access point for gathering consumer data, without ever typing in a url or downloading an app.

Marketing through QR is a growing trend that’s likely to take mainstage in 2020. If you’re not already using it, your competition probably is.

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