The role of QR Codes in marketing and beyond in 2019

Are QR Codes really that important? They’ve been around long for quite some time and haven’t been replaced by anything – and you are likely to find them on almost everything that you purchase these days. This must mean something. Are QR Codes so embedded in our everyday that they have become second nature?

What Are QR Codes?

For those that don’t have a Scooby on what we’re talking about,  QR Codes are “quick response” codes, they are a square-shaped black and white symbol that can be scanned using a smartphone, which then takes you to further information about a product or service they are also used to allow access to certain services or payment and shipping.

QR Codes first appeared in Japan, in 1994, in the automotive industry. They were used as a convenient way to machine read a label (QR Code) giving details about the product / parts that the label referred to.

These encrypted black and white square-shaped symbols aren’t always shaped like a perfect square, but you definitely will know one when you see it. Some of the most likely places to find them are on signage, direct mail, product containers, magazines, and commercials where you can scan the code and you get directed to the product website or e-commerce websites. QR Codes can hold web links, events details, coupons – the options are endless which makes them even more interesting and supports their case for longevity.

Historically you had to download a QR reader app on your smartphone which you’d have to open then take a picture of the QR Code lining it up within the box – not the hardest task ever, but still a couple of hoops to jump through. Now smartphones are able to read QR Codes directly through their camera - no apps required; the technology is built in – this has made things much easier from the consumers perspective.

Are QR Codes Still Relevant?

Some big players are using QR Codes. Check out your Apple Wallet – all those e-tickets use QR Codes, your Tesco Clubcard and then there’s WhatsApp for desktop. These big names use QR Codes for the convenience it now offers. These are very much ‘utility’ style uses and we use them almost without giving the codes a second thought.

Can QR Codes benefit Marketing?

What about QR Codes for marketing? As yet it’s safe to say that QR Codes haven’t been exploited fully for their marketing potential. You’ll see numerous businesses adding QR Codes in their marketing campaigns as an easy way for consumers to get more information about their product quickly easily and without distraction – which is hugely important in this world where Google searches, notifications and a gazillion other channels are vying keenly to grab our attention! You direct the consumer to exactly the right place which, done well is something both consumer and brand want – everyone’s a winner. The QR Code also helps to give metrics to your marketing activity, which has always been the bug bear of the board room - not being able to assign precise ROI on large media spends – it’s still not 100% accurate but it gives some indicators of performance.  As far as marketing is concerned, QR Codes could become a growing tool, especially now that there are more smartphone users than ever before and QR Codes can be set up really easily by anyone, anywhere and with platform like fivesquid you can even get QR Codes styled to suit your brand. 


The efficacy of the QR Code is still being debated in some tech quarters. Some are optimistic about the future of QR Codes, while others think it will die a natural death with advances in AI. One thing that we are all likely to agree with is the convenience that QR Codes offer to all parties involved.