Have you seen strange images like this before? They’re called QR (Quick Response) codes. QR Codes like the one on the right or a Microsoft Tag, below it, are appearing In the advertising of many different types of magazines, including Greenhouse Grower and Nursery Retailer, and others. They’re also showing up on plant tags in home Depot, Lowes and many independent retail nurseries. The QR code on the tag below leads to information on miniature roses in Home Depot’s ‘Mobil Plant Library.’
These images are actually a type of barcode. They’re similar to the more familiar barcodes used in grocery and department stores, only more powerful. They can contain more information, open a website, or send an e-mail or text message. These barcodes can be scanned by most smartphones or even some, mobiles phones with a camera.
Why am I talking about QR codes and smartphones? Because smartphone sales have skyrocketed. At the end of 2010 there were over 63 million smartphones in use in the U.S. – roughly 25% of all mobile phone users owned one (http://bit.ly/hLNbNQ). Just recently (Feb 2011) the Associated Press reported that smartphones are now outselling PCs. It’s forecast that smartphone sales will total 75% of all mobile phone sales by 2015. (http://bit.ly/ePw2pC)
In other words, if you’re not using QR codes or planning to use them in the near future, you’re missing out on a healthy, and growing, portion of your market.
Your imagination is the only limit on how this process is used. You could add a QR code to link to special care instructions on your website, on a flyer to provide directions to an event, or even a coffee mug or T-shirt (see http://www.qrstuff.com/). Anyone with a smartphone and a barcode app will be able to quickly and easily access encoded information.
Using two of the many free online QR code generators (and Microsoft tag generators), I created the two codes above. If you happen to own a smartphone, you could scan either and within several seconds open a Google map to the Manatee Extension office.
These tags are now in wide use in Japan. They’re gaining popularity in the UK, Europe and the US. Don’t miss out on an important marketing trend.