Jet Airways, Bajaj Auto, BlackBerry, Hyundai, Ford, Volkswagen and several leading lifestyle brands like DeBeers are now using the Quick Response (QR) code to target the smartphone user base in India.
A QR code is a specific matrix barcode (two-dimensional or 2D code), readable by a dedicated QR barcode reader or camera phones (available as free downloads on app stores or a merchant's website). It consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text or data. The QR code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Japan. However, the company does not claim rights over its patent, allowing companies to experiment with this technology.
“The regular barcodes that we see on products today can support only about 14 to 17 characters of information, while 2D barcodes have the ability to embed more than 7,000 characters that allow marketers to provide instant access to information, websites, videos and reviews,” says Jay Sheth, president and chief executive, Air2Web India, an enterprise grade mobile solutions provider.
Air2Web recently conducted a campaign for Bajaj Auto to promote the exclusive footage of Bajaj Stunt Mania on mobiles. “QR codes were used in print ads, posters and standees at Bajaj showrooms for easy download of videos,” says Sheth. The brand ran two QR code campaigns for 60 day for different mediums—magazines and showroom standees or posters where the scan lead to a 60-second video footage.
To scan a QR code, one needs a QR code reader installed on a smartphone. If a smartphone is not pre-loaded with a QR code reader, one can download a free version from multiple sources merchant's website or app stores. It takes less than three minutes to download and install the reader. Once installed, point the handset's camera in the direction of the QR code to correctly capture it to scan the code (click a picture of the barcode). The barcode reader scans the code and displays the embedded information in the code. If the code contains an URL, the reader would be prompted to click the URL and visit the page containing the related information.
QR codes can contain businesses URL, discounts, promotions as text, images or embedded features. When a QR code is placed in a storefront's window, shoppers can simply scan the code and instantly learn more about the designers featured in the window display or available inventory.
With over 10 million smartphone owners in India, marketers realise the need to deploy immediate communication tools like QR codes to capture consumer attention. While radio identification (RFID) tags are available for anything between Rs 15 and Rs 30 (depending on whether they are passive or active), barcodes (both 1D and 2D) cost manufacturers only a few paise.
QR codes also have a distinct cost advantages over RFID tags. With free applications to read and QR codes available for download on smartphones, the codes can be added to signboards, printed onto stick-on labels, or displayed on a computer or a TV screen with no initial investment from the brands. On the other hand, RFID tags contain embedded radio chips that receive, store and transmit data about the product.
Jet Airways adopted the very latest in QR mobile code technology to disseminate more information about its products and services to its guests. The airlines deployed 3GVision's i-nigma 2D mobile barcode solutions on its website, JetWings, its in-flight magazine and on its Facebook page to allow guests to access real-time digital information. In the second phase, Jet Airways also plans to include the quick response barcodes on its e-tickets.
Sudheer Raghavan, chief communications officer, Jet Airways says, “Quick response barcodes provide an effective and responsive platform to facilitate a high level of engagement with our guests, especially since this technology harnesses the power of digital information, giving guests all the information they need on their handsets. Placing the barcodes in our magazine serves to further the editorial conversation with our guests through value-added information and services.”
Mendy Mendelsohn, chief executive of mobile barcode solutions provider 3GVision says, “Already an established technology in Japan, QR codes are set to receive a boost in India, as the market for mobile services grows every day with the adoption of powerful mobile devices.” 3GVision's i-nigma 2D mobile barcode reader supports more than 450 types of GSM mobile phones across leading mobile operating systems and platforms that include Java, Symbian, S60, Windows Mobile, iPhone, BlackBerry and Brew.