Why QR Code Advertising Rarely Works in College Marketing

Why QR Code Advertising Rarely Works in College Marketing

College students need an incentive to scan QR codes and they need to be presented in an engaging fashion, otherwise QR code advertising will not work.

In theory, QR codes are a marketer’s dream. They link the consumer with the product information or business in a matter of seconds. In reality, they rarely work. There are a number of reasons why QR codes don’t work, high among them is the lack of accessibility. Now that may seem to contradict the very fundamentals of QR code promotions, to bridge the gap between buyers and sellers and instantly connect them with relevant information. However, the steps required to scan the QR code take time and consumer action.

First, they have to select and download an app to make their smartphone capable of scanning the QR code. They then have to scan the QR code. Even though these steps take only a few minutes to complete, the consumer makes a cost-benefit analysis. Since most QR codes are an unknown—as far as the information you’re going to receive—most prospective customers don’t see the point in scanning the QR code. As with all forms of advertising, the consumer needs to be provided with an incentive for their action; they need to know what’s in it for them. This is especially true among college students and when engaging in college marketing strategies.

Many college students choose not to use QR codes because they don’t see the benefit in doing so. Often times QR codes don’t work because they link to a company’s website that is no different from the actual website when viewed from a computer. If it is not designed for a mobile device, then why not access the information later on a computer? Incentive is key for QR code advertising to work, especially in college advertising. Students need to know what they’re getting by scanning the QR code; they need motivation. This can be in the form of a discount, special promotion, or exclusive information.

Another reason QR codes don’t work is because marketers get lazy or there’s a lack of funding. These days we see QR codes everywhere, including billboards, products, flyers, posters, etc. Very rarely do we see QR codes being delivered in a creative way. Just because QR codes have great potential of connecting businesses and consumers, the same creativity that goes into other forms of marketing needs to be utilized with QR code advertising. Creativity is an essential component of college marketing; the youth are all about engaging with media and technology in fun and inventive ways.

QR code advertising does have potential, but more often than not it fails to engage college students. Major changes need to be made in order for this marketing technology to really make its mark. 

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