What’s the Gist of QR Codes?

by Colleen Rugg

Are QR codes helpful?  Are they actually worthwhile?  QR codes encourage people to clean up beaches, quit smoking cigarettes, learn about history, read up on fashion designers or tell a person’s life story on a tombstone.

QR codes are free to produce and everyone else is using them so you should too!  In all seriousness, it’s worth it to give them a try.  You can use them on your business card or to tell another story about your products or services.

Use your Smartphone to scan QR Codes
Download and app and use your Smartphone to scan QR Codes

Have you been to a beach lately?  Was it clean?  Chances are you might have frowned as you watched someone drop a cigarette in the sand, or a beachgoer leave a cup or part of their lunch behind.  Can you believe that a QR might help to keep a beach clean?  As reported by the Los Angeles Times column Greenspace, Environmental news from California and beyond, Santa Monica Beach, CA is using a no-nonsense tactic to get its message across through QR Codes – as a way to help keep the beach clean. Heal the Bay and the City of Santa Monica have placed 500 beach trash cans with a QR Code that links to the Santa Monica Beachcast where users can “find the latest surf and weather conditions, read the most recent beach report cards,” and of course volunteer for Heal the Bay’s beach cleanups and more.  I found this to be creative, also very helpful to beach lovers and an uncomplicated approach to ask for help to protect the environment.  People want to help and do volunteer work, but many are busy and need a helpful, straightforward call to action.

The world of fashion has embraced QR codes to bring the designer to the consumer, and if you have seen a QR code on a storefront window, you can connect by learning more about the designers featured in the window display or the available inventory, watch a video about a style of clothing you like and more.  Reports Katy Finneran of Fox Business, Small Business Center: “In this sense, QR codes help bring offline customers online. In short, the goal of QR codes, like that of social media or the internet-at large is: to reconcile the virtual and physical world.”

Help people quit smoking!  Maybe?  Rhode Island is offering up QR codes to help people quit smoking!  The health initiative is using QR codes on outside ads like bus stops in the hopes bored smokers might explore the connected smoking cessation websites. The QuitNowRI.com site developed by the RI Department of Health offers quit-smoking resources. According to estimates from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a “$1 increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes in all states would reduce smoking-related disease and death and result in more than $52 billion in long-term health savings over 5 years.”  I further researched the facts about Rhode Island (the state with the second highest excise tax on cigarettes behind New York) through the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and found that 1,600 adults die every year from their own smoking and the annual health care costs in Rhode Island directly caused by smoking are upwards of $506 million.  According to MobiHealthNews.com, “the Rhode Island Department of Health is strapped for cash…and the department is looking for ways stretch less dollars more effectively through mobile health initiatives.”  Let’s hope these QR codes fare well for all the smokers in Rhode Island.

As more consumers use their smartphones for in-store purchasing decisions, brands are becoming more inventive and thinking smart!  Have you ever walked into the grocery store and realized you’d forgotten to write down the ingredients needed for a recipe, or were glazed over, tired and hungry, with no idea of what to make for dinner?  Tanimura & Antle rolled out its Artisan Lettuce “Celebrate Summer” promotion which makes that trip to the store a bit less dramatic for your salivating glands.  The promotion offers shoppers seasonal recipes plus entertaining tips through a QR code on the product’s packaging and on the newly revamped website artisanlettuce.com

Other creative uses for QR codes:

  • “Commuter-shopping” – In South Korea, shoppers view photos of products in virtual stores. When they pick out something to buy, they scan the product’s QR code with their smartphones, which adds the item to their virtual carts. After the purchase is made, the product is delivered to the consumer’s physical address.   “The retailer is making commuter-shopping possible by letting the store come to the people while they wait for the subway.”
  • Diesel is using QR codes in the stores to grow its social network. Users scan the QR code and click the Facebook “Like” button. Then a post appears on their Facebook wall saying they are shopping at Diesel and showing what product they liked.
  • QR codes are popping-up on For Sale signs in North America and Europe.
  • Learn about the dearly departed – QR codes are being placed upon tombstones so visitors can “leave messages for their loved ones, and record stories for others who may visit. And all you need is a smartphone and a free app to make it work.”  Really?  Yes.
  • When visiting a Kent historical site in Kent, OH, smartphone owners will be able to scan a soon-to-be-installed QR code and view an audio-slideshow presentation on YouTube, put together by local Walls Elementary School fifth-graders.
  • Bike Week, NH – Local businesses jumped on board making it the first year that sponsors have included QR codes within advertisements.  Scanning these QR codes with camera phones brought Bike Week fans to advertisers’ websites helping nearby restaurants and retailers, to instantly direct fans’ attention to menus, services and merchandise.

Maybe next time while waiting in line at the DMV or for your next flight you’ll download the app to your phone.  QR codes provide a simple way to connect, share, enjoy “commuter-shopping” and turn tombstones into virtual museums.

Stay tuned, as My SMN will continue to follow the use of QR Codes and we will also show you how to create your own QR code for free.


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