At Google they have a saying, “Data beats opinion.” I’ll describe what you may already know about human nature and I’ll provide some resources where you can find the latest data regarding the people using QR codes.
The vast majority of people won’t change unless they have a compelling reason to do so. First of all, seeing funny-looking squares with dots plastered about isn’t going to compel someone to buy a more expensive mobile phone and a costly data plan just so they can use their phones to be exposed to QR code marketing. The audience for QR codes are people who already own mobile phones and typically have internet data plans.
It probably comes as no surprise to you that young and affluent people are the first to try new technology. Depending on your age, think about the first people to use compact discs, or computers, or video games, or internet chat, or video streaming. Likewise, young, affluent people are the most likely to scan a QR code. Older and less affluent are less likely to scan a QR code. This makes perfect sense: Young and affluent people are more likely to have a camera equipped mobile phone with an internet data plan. Older people are less likely to have a camera equipped phone and less likely to have a internet data plan.
Business people were the first to use RIM Blackberry phones because they had e-mail features that didn’t exist on other less featured phones. Blackberry phones had tactile keyboards and the ability to securely connect to company e-mail. So, fast forward a couple of decades later people who first owned Blackberries continue to use them in spite of the fact that there are quite a few arguably better mobile phone choices now. For those of you old enough to remember the early days of computers, some people and companies continued to use the incredibly cumbersome WordPerfect word processor even though it was incredibly hard to use and cumbersome compared to Microsoft Word and other much improved programs that were introduced after it.
An affluent consumer might scan a QR code in a magazine to learn more about a product. A young person might scan a QR code from a TV screen to learn more about a musical group. Either of those groups of people may scan a QR code to take advantage of a special offer. These people already own camera equipped mobile phones with data plans and can easily answer a compelling call-to-action that is printed near a QR code.
So, I see QR codes used by a mostly younger subset of prospective audience: the affluent and the younger. The good news, in terms of QR code use, is that people get older every day. It may be difficult to convince someone older to scan a QR code but as the current young and affluent age, they’ll help expand QR code use into older age groups.
The organizations below provide statistical information that describes QR code demographics and penetration:
A Comscore report from September 2011 revealed that 14 million people, or 6.2% of mobile users, scanned QR codes in the month of June. Better yet, nearly 37% of users were in the coveted 25 to 34 age bracket and more 33% had a household income of at least $100,000. “QR codes demonstrate just one of the ways in which mobile marketing can effectively be integrated into existing media and marketing campaigns to help reach desired consumer segments”