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Rethinking the QR Code: The Pros and Cons

During the 2022 Super Bowl, one commercial featured a strange box that bounced around the screen. Watchers rushed to pull out their phones and scan this box to find out what all the fuss was about.

All of them discovered an attention-grabbing advertisement for Coinbase. And that strange box? It was a QR code.

We can find QR codes everywhere we go. They’re on shop windows, in advertisements, and beside cashiers at the store. A QR code is a glorified barcode, so why is it experiencing a resurgence in popularity?

In this guide, we’ll discuss what the QR code can do. Then we’ll discuss how we can make use of this technology to revitalize our brand image.

How Does a QR Code Work?

Believe it or not, the QR (Quick Response) code has been around since as early as 1994. However, they used it at that time as a means of factory inventory management. Cell phones were in their infancy, so few knew about the technology.

Barcodes have been around much longer, using a laser to measure the distance between black lines. Those distances translate to code, which translates to something humans can read. 

QR codes, on the other hand, use a more complex pattern. This allows them to produce a long string of data, such as a URL. The complexity of QR codes means they’re more versatile than barcodes.

These QR codes experienced a resurgence in the late 2010s when smartphones became ubiquitous. In those days, we had to download a special app to scan them. In 2017, major smartphone manufacturers began to include native QR code scanners in their cameras.

Unfortunately, the QR code was more of a gimmick than anything else. It was a cool way for us to access a website without typing it in. But outside of a few uses, the average person didn’t see it on a daily basis.

The Rise of a Contactless World

All of that changed in 2020 when the pandemic came into full swing. With mask mandates and quarantines, we needed a way to reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Contactless payments like NFC via phones rose to prominence. But QR codes allowed us to do much more than pay for a coffee. QR codes allowed us to obtain virtual coupons, see virtual menus, and take part in digital experiential marketing.

While the intent was to reduce the spread of disease, this opened a door to something new. QR codes became a form of brand experience and digital marketing. They breathed life into everything from running a marketing event to event staffing.

This resurgence taught us that the QR code might be a mid-90s technology, but we’re far from having used it to its full potential. A clever marketing team can create an unforgettable brand experience if they employ QR code correctly.

Pros of the QR Code

In theory, the QR code is relatively simple. It’s a sequence of black and white boxes that encodes a small string of information. But the simplicity belies the clever ways we can use it for digital marketing.

Ease of Use

QR codes are so easy to use that a small child can scan them. Most modern phone manufacturers include scanners in their camera apps. 

All the customer has to do is point their camera at the QR code. The camera reads the information within, providing a URL or string of data. The customer taps the URL, and they have access to whatever we want them to see.

Keep Close Track of Customers

Unlike barcodes, QR codes are unique. Scan a barcode for a product, and all that barcode can tell us is what that product is. A QR code, on the other hand, is unique for its own specific instance.

That means we can track customers through a space. A clever way one restaurant used this was to assign a QR code to each table. Customers would order the food through the QR code and that would tell waiters where to take the order.

Reduce Load on Staff

When event staffing is an issue, a QR code provides a means of space management. It allows managers to simplify operations, all while giving customers an interactive experience that they enjoy.

This allows us to improve our data, too. Use QR codes to get a better understanding of how experiential marketing is working in the area where businesses deploy it.

Create an Interactive Brand Experience

QR codes excite our desire to uncover secrets. The experience of scanning a QR code means we never know what will be behind it.

Museums have used this to create hybrid physical/digital displays. Customers use the QR code to access the digital portion of the display. That creates an unforgettable brand experience.

Saves Money

QR codes may save businesses money. For example, menus. Menus get used and abused by customers, and they cost a lot to print in full color. 

With QR codes, we might be able to reduce costs. QR codes mean less staff intervention, and customers can obtain our services without even entering the store.

Creates More User Engagement

The simplicity of a QR code means we can put it there and leave it. We can promote coupons, contests, or anything we can think of. We can provide more information on a product or additional customer service.

The result is more users taking interest in our products. More interaction means more chances of a sale. And it means we have a passive form of marketing anywhere we need it.

Cons of the QR Code

One con of QR codes is they require customers to do some work. A customer may not feel like going through the hassle of pulling out their phone. That goes especially for elderly customers who dislike newer technology.

Another disadvantage is internet access. If a shop has free Wi-Fi, there’s no issue. But if it doesn’t, customers may have to use their costly data plans to scan the code.

QR Codes Are the Contactless Way

The QR code is a simple technology that allows for a contactless business. They provide infinite potential for marketing. And as the world grows ever more digital, they’re an excellent way to create more digital engagement in the physical world.


Creating a brand experience defines how customers view our products. Contact Auctus Agency to create experiential marketing that lingers with customers long after they leave the store.