Once upon a time consumers could browse magazines, walk around shopping malls and purchase products without a QR code in sight. However, all of that could soon change as companies look to extend the product and brand experience further by integrating an interactive and unique QR code campaign as part of their overall marketing and online PR strategy. In light of this, below are three areas where QR codes could begin appearing within the retail sector.
1. Integrating QR codes into the design of shop window displays - redefines the concept of window shopping as shoppers will be able to pull up a whole host of product information such as product reviews, product videos and product range information. A fantastic example of this is the recent Lacoste Championship campaign launched by sports clothing brand Lacoste. By scanning the Lacoste QR code window display sticker, shoppers are able to register for a 15 per cent discount, play the Lacoste retro bat and ball arcade game on their smartphone, share their scores and product images on Facebook and Twitter and even enter the latest Lacoste tennis competition. Interestingly, even long after the store closes for the day, shoppers are still able to use the QR codes from the window displays to access product and brand information. All in all, this is fantastically unique and effective use of a store window display.
2. Utilising QR codes to enhance promotional materials such as magazine adverts and billboards - up until recently, arriving at a full page advert of a brand's latest and greatest new product when browsing through a magazine was a fairly one dimensional experience. However, by placing QR codes onto a magazine ad or feature the promotion is essentially expanding brand-to-consumer engagement, increasing the time the consumer is interacting with your promotional materials, and more importantly, your brand. The possibilities that this presents to brands when thinking about their promotional materials is limitless. Much in the same way that Lacoste utilised its store displays, the same level or interaction can also be applied to integrating QR codes as part of a magazine or billboard advert. The code really can link to wherever the brand would like the consumer to go, be it an interactive video, a product web page, or a competition within Facebook. Factor in a link from the QR code to the launch of a brand's latest smartphone app and you have a campaign immediately brought to life. That said, the key will always be in integrating this effectively with other social media, PR and marketing activities via an imaginative narrative that takes the consumer on a journey with the brand. Essentially, what once was a fairly one-dimensional experience within a printed magazine now becomes something as multi-dimensional as the brand's creative department would like to make it.
3. Changing the way shoppers browse in store - as we have seen with Best Buy's recent move to add QR codes to product fact tags in store, adding QR codes to in-store displays and even onto the product packaging is something that we will certainly start to see more of in the coming months and certainly a feature that could have a significant effect on the way shoppers browse when they are in the stores themselves. For example, imagine if you were browsing in a record shop and you could scan a QR code on the packaging of an artist's latest release; there is then the potential to provide consumers with a whole raft of information - almost turning the user's smartphone into a customised listening post whereby the user can listen to tracks off the album, watch the artist's latest music video, purchase tickets to an upcoming live show, or even be given a free download. Interestingly, QR codes are now even being added by some brands to the packaging of its cookware and backing items, enabling shoppers to open up a whole list of recipe ideas and top tips simply by scanning the QR code on the side of the product.
When looking closely at the concept of QR codes and how they can be linked in with other traditional PR, social media and marketing activities, one of the first things people usually associate QR codes with is the idea of being linked to an exclusive product discount that will encouraging shoppers to buy the product. However, the opportunity that QR codes present to brands, PR companies and marketing folks alike in terms of doing something unique, innovative and highly engaging is much bigger than simply offering 10 per cent product discounts. Interestingly, another idea is that QR codes could soon become like social media graffiti, in that they will start to appear all over the place in the same way a graffiti artist leaves their tag on a sidewalk or subway wall. This too may be true. Either way, we are certainly still very much at the beginning with this one. It surely can't be too much longer before we see brands integrating QR codes to truly provide something fresh, unique and interactive to extend the product and brand experience in ways that traditional media and marketing activities couldn't reach before.