Posts Tagged ‘mobile marketing’

Is the QR Code Dead?

Posted on April 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm

It was only a few years ago when QR codes were among the “buzzwords” in the retail industry. Deemed as a way to digitize traditional media, QR codes were developed to allow retailers with both a physical and online presence to connect the two channels and drive traditional customers towards new opportunities. However, the direct impact of QR codes hasn’t been quite as intended and more innovative retailers are using different methods to connect the two channels. So is the QR code dead? Let’s take a look at the QR code and the future of the technology…

  • QR codes still require a certain level of technological sophistication – A major reason why QR codes have failed to accelerate their slow growth cycle is the amount of effort put into scanning a single QR code. The majority of phones do not come with built-in QR scanners, meaning consumers looking to scan a QR code must seek out and download an application. This process can be confusing and even then some tech-savvy consumers who understand the process simply do not want another app on their phone just for scanning QR codes. In fact, according to ExactTarget, 28% of U.S. smartphone and tablet owners said that they don’t scan QR codes because they don’t have an app for scanning or simply don’t know how.

  • QR codes are used for information, an area with emerging competition – A recent study by Responsys showed that 65% of U.S. consumers who have scanned a QR code have done so to obtain additional information, more than any other reason. Through increases in the smartphone and tablet population over the past few years, the number of QR codes scanned has also increased. But as scans have increased, so have new and competitive ways for consumers to obtain information outside of QR codes. Below are a few examples…


    • Near-field communication (NFC) continues to challenge QR usage – QR codes usage is growing, but not as fast as near-field communication (NFC). For traditional marketing, NFC allows information to be transmitted via radio communication between a phone with NFC capabilities and an information “tag”, or an unpowered NFC chip (such as a marketing sign which has been “tagged”). This technology is currently built into some phones today and has been deemed as a replacement to the QR code for many years.

    • Image-recognition applications are becoming more common – One of the new areas of innovation within mobile retail technology is the ability for images to be recognized and then redirected to a new product page. For example, if a consumer takes a snapshot of a dress they like, they will immediately be redirected to a site which is selling that dress online. This technology is based around complex “learning algorithms” which have been prevalent in other industries but are making their way into retail for the first time.

    • Augmented reality is becoming more realistic for everyone – Although it may seem relatively new, augmented reality has actually existed for several years. As an example, augmented reality in the retail industry would include having consumers view your latest promotional poster with an app or tablet camera and have that poster turn into a video with no further action required. This is much more sophisticated and interactive than QR codes and could become even more powerful with emerging wearable products such as Google Glass.


  • Universal Product Codes (UPCs) may become the new QR codes – Some retailers have realized that UPC codes traditionally used to identify products can have an additional use. There are now apps available which can allow the unique UPCs found on every product or product tag to function in a similar way as a QR code without having to print a specific QR code. This is particularly useful for apparel items such as accessories which have small tags and can be more difficult for image recognition software to identify.


In conclusion, the QR code isn’t dead quite yet – in fact scans for QR codes have never been higher. However, while it once stood alone in bridging the gap between a physical and online presence, it now competes against newer and more innovative technology in a world where consumers are using their digital devices to acquire information more than ever before. It is likely that the utilization of QR codes will need to change for them to survive, with marketers likely opting to deploy newer and more accessible technology moving forward with their campaigns.

Back to School Shopping and eCommerce

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

As the summer winds down and a new school year is on the horizon, it’s time for parents to get their children ready for another year of learning. Over the past few years, the event of “back to school” shopping has turned into a lengthy retail holiday of its own, with parents expected to spend over $26 billion dollars on back to school shopping in 2013. 54% of this spending go towards apparel (including shoes), 31% to electronics, and 15% to school supplies.

So what is the role of back to school eCommerce? Here are a few things to know…

  • Mobile and tablets are now a key component in back to school shopping – Many parents are turning to their mobile and tablet devices not only to shop online but also for comparative shopping. Budget-conscious parents often check online retailers while back to school shopping at physical stores to make sure they are getting a good deal. In fact, 37% of parents stated they will do more comparison shopping online and on mobile devices for back to school than last year.


  • Digital coupons are becoming more important to parents – Sometimes overlooked in the past by some parents, coupons are making a bit of a comeback. Gone is the process of scouring newspapers and circulars for coupons as modern parents have begun loading coupons directly onto their rewards cards or to be scanned on their mobile devices. Omni-channel retailers are taking note and making these promotions easy and accessible for parents, even for parents who aren’t very tech-savvy.


  • Back-to-school shopping is starting early – In a recent survey by the NRF, 49% of parents stated they will begin their back to school shopping at least one month before school starts, with just 22% of parents set to begin their shopping one to two weeks before school starts. Only 5% of parents will go back to school shopping the week school starts or later. With so many parents starting back to school shopping early and at different times it appears retailers can deploy multiple promotions to attract a wide array of customers to their site and stores.


  • Teens spend their own money on back to school – In a recent survey by, parents expect teens to spend an average of $44 of their own money online on back to school items in 2013. Although brands should be cautious, an effective strategy for marketing to and reaching these teens can be opt-in text message marketing campaigns, which have a high open rate, especially if the text message contains a relevant coupon code or promotion.


  • Don’t forget about back to college students – While back to school initiatives are often targeted at parents with children of younger ages, parents of a college student actually spent $220 more last year sending their children back to college than back to school parents. Dads also tend to be the big spenders when it comes to back to college students, spending almost $250 more on average than moms. Depending on the audience and customers of a brand, a back to school marketing effort may not apply – but back to college marketing could be an applicable and successful initiative.


In conclusion, back to school shopping continues to evolve. Mobile and tablets are now becoming a major component for shopping online or showrooming, and parents are becoming more accustomed to digital offers and promotions. Brands should consider multiple promotions targeted at multiple customer segments as both parents and students will be making back to school purchases.  Although it may not receive the notoriety of the holiday season, back to school can be a key time of year for retailers to grow their presence and brand both online and offline.

The Consumer Packaged Goods Industry and eCommerce

Posted on July 10, 2013 at 9:38 am

It wasn’t very long ago when ordering beauty products or household goods online was considered strange. Now, according to a recent survey by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 40% of member companies within the association are expected to sell direct-to-consumer online in the future, up from 24% last year. As eCommerce has evolved, so have the expectations of consumers to not only find but also order products online. As a result of this, more consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are launching eCommerce initiatives, some for the very first time, to meet the expanding needs of their consumers. Here are a few ways CPG companies are evolving to meet these needs…

  • Digital ad spending in the CPG industry is trending upward – A reason for the shift in more CPG manufacturers selling direct-to-consumer through eCommerce sites is the increased digital ad budgets of major CPG brands. More consumers are clicking on digital ads, resulting in the need for a digital location for these ads to click through to. In fact, according to eMarketer, U.S. CPG companies are expected to spend $5.3 billion on digital ads by 2017, experiencing a double-digit growth percentage over the next 5 years.


  • Consumers have become more receptive to e-mails from CPG manufacturers – Even over the past 12 months, consumers have become more open to e-mail marketing around CPG brands and their products. According to Experian, the open rate for CPG-related e-mails has increased by 21% from 2012 and the amount of eCommerce revenue directly tied to CPG brand e-mails has increased by 15%. Additionally, both the bounce rate (down 31%) and unsubscribe rate (down 18%) have declined significantly for CPG brands over the past year.


  • CPG manufacturers are using mobile to reach younger consumers – With the evolution of mobile technology, more CPG brands are looking to utilize mobile to reach a younger audience. The average consumer who engages with CPG content on mobile devices is led by females (53%) and approximately half of consumers engaging with mobile CPG content are between the ages of 25 and 44. While traditional marketing methods continue to work well for older consumers, this “middle-age” demographic is becoming accustomed to acquiring information when and how they want to on their mobile devices. This demographic is also becoming more likely to engage in mobile commerce instead of using their mobile devices only for product information or showrooming.


  • Some CPG manufacturers still value product awareness over digital transactions – Some CPG manufacturers are unique from many traditional online retailers in the sense that most of their product sales come from third-party stores, both online and offline. Product awareness and communication has traditionally been vital to the success of CPG brands, which has resulted in some CPG brands launching “micro-sites” focused on eCommerce as a way to get more information and learn about their consumers. While these sites may not be a pillar of business for CPG manufacturers, it creates an opportunity for CPG companies to cater towards tech-savvy consumers and maximize their marketing efforts by expanding their audience (e-mail, social media, etc.) directly through information obtained via eCommerce transactions.



In conclusion, the CPG and eCommerce industries have a unique and evolving relationship. While it may be several years until some CPG brands see online sales as a major contributor to their bottom line, the information and experience gained from having an eCommerce site has the potential to become invaluable. As CPG manufacturers look at their analytics and towards the future, it’s becoming more and more apparent that expanding their digital footprint into the world of eCommerce could be vital to the success of some CPG brands moving forward.