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Twice as many Germans as UK consumers use QR codes, but they are still “Quite Rubbish” finds SKOPOS study

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Twice as many German consumers are using QR codes that their UK counterparts, according to the latest figures released by market insight and consultancy company SKOPOS. SKOPOS found that 24% of Germans compared to 12% of UK mobile phone users have ever used a QR code. These figures are also backed up by numbers from 3G Vision which find that Germany is the largest user of QR codes behind the US.

“From our extensive research and experience in both markets, we have established that Germans appreciate QR Codes more than the Brits because for starters, German-based brands heavily invested in and adopted QR Codes during 2010-2011 driving trial and usage through 2011 into 2012,” explains Darren Mark Noyce, Chief Consultant at SKOPOS Market Insight. “This has also led to some ‘critical mass’ with those not using mobile barcodes feeling that maybe they should be, or perhaps being recommended to by friends. Additionally, and as important, Germans are culturally MUCH more into mobile as a channel and tech per se. This contrasts say to the UK’s love of Social Media; Brits are more open – and Germans relatively more closed, and less into “sharing.”

As to why anyone uses QR codes, those questioned by SKOPOS say that above all it eliminates the complicated input of a web address into a smartphone. They are most commonly sourced from Print Media – newspapers 26%, magazines 41% – but also from outdoor advertising, TV ads, the internet, and more. Some even appear on the back of buses – raising the important issue that context is key. However, QR codes may only be digital fringe phenomenon: Much of QR codes usage is only occasional, with only 4% in Germany being regular users.

SKOPOS has recorded two key reasons for non-use and infrequent use/take-up across both markets. Firstly, disappointing and poor experiences. However, it is also quite clear that QR Codes often disappoint, with almost three-quarters (72%) of users in the UK not agreeing it was a good experience! Indeed, 1 in 4, 24% referred to it as a poor experience. The back of a bus is perhaps the start of such a poor experience…

Secondly, many people have simply just not heard of them. One key reason for Non-Use, says SKOPOS, is lack of awareness – more than 50% overall claimed this in the UK – even with a clear explanation of the codes. Indeed, Non-Users of QR Codes – who are still actively online and have mobiles – also predominantly showed a lack of knowledge or understanding. SKOPOS’ figures suggest two of key reasons are that the phone has no capability for 39%, and “don’t know how to” for 30%.

“In our view then, a QR code should always be accompanied by a “performance-bond” (outcome guarantee) as concrete as possible,” says Noyce. “What will I get if I can this? QR codes are most likely to be used when consumers know exactly what information they will receive, such as in timetables, nutrition information and recipes for food that downloads or specific product information.

“Scanning a mobile QR code should be a shortcut to valued content or offers, not an effort, nor a disappointment. Our study shows that even in 2012 many are unsure, and many still experience significant efforts in return for a Quite Rubbish experience.”

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