Students Don’t Know How to Use QR Codes

A damming critique of QR codes for marketing.

In the midst of the growing industry pressure to force-feed these barcodes into the marketplace, we noticed a profound indifference being shown to QR codes by the one demographic that can make or break a trend — college students.

Unless QR codes become easier, more nimble, and can provide content that engenders a more meaningful connection to the brand or product, students will continue to shower them with apathy.

The best part of this article is that it is based on some hard data.

We put a QR code in front of 500+ college student and asked them to scan it. We didn’t ask if they *would*, we asked if they *could*. And despite the fact that over 80% of those students had the necessary tool (a smartphone), only 21% knew (or figured out) how to successfully scan it.

A niche market.

[via @ulotrichous]

7 thoughts on “Students Don’t Know How to Use QR Codes”

  1. This is why it kills me to see hundreds of librarians wasting their time attending conference sessions about QR Codes. Everywhere I go it’s trumpeted as the hip thing for libraries to do…

  2. i fail to see how this is a “damning critique” of the *use* of qr codes; instead, it provides insights into *usability* issues with qr codes. i’m not saying anything original here that hasn’t been stated by other colleagues in those “waste-of-time” conference sessions, but if you’re going to post a qr code, it needs to be accompanied by brief text that explains how to use it, and what’s behind it (what’s in it for me?), i.e. “scan this code with a smartphone app like scanlife to read about and register for library classes”.

  3. As far as “mental models” are concerned, these thingies are a disaster. The first question ought to be not how to use one but where you think it’ll take you.

    Meanwhile, in other QR news, Forrester finds that “consumers aren’t scanning away today”:

    Finally, who cares anyway? QR is sooooo last-year:

  4. When I was living in japan in 2009-2010, QR codes were used everywhere…EVERYWHERE. On street signs, advertisements, train schedules, etc. But they also were always attached to an actual piece of information: You knew you were saving something you knew about, and often it was to get a coupon or something. Too often I don’t see what exactly you need the QR Code in the Library for. It doesn’t appear to be connected.

    But this also was part of Japanese social media. This is how they saved and searched items. They were not big google users, and they preferred their phones (not smartphones, really, just clamshells) to computers. Most Japanese people I met did not own use conventional e-mail or computers. They had their texting phones. So, saving a QR code to their phone fit in with what they did. Our social media here is much different.

  5. American Libraries Direct this morning had an article, “Why SnapTags are replacing QR codes.” Well, I gave them a try. I downloaded the app and tried to scan the codes on their page. I couldn’t even get them to scan. I can easily scan QR codes. Another problem I saw was there was no links to create your SnapTag. I can create QR codes freely and easily. I don’t think QR codes have much to worry about from SnapTags.
    QR codes do have problems of their own. Too often they are there with no indication to what they link to. Something like Chat Roulette. A quick easy way to get content on my phone is useful, but the bugs do have to be worked out.

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