Is a Lack of Creativity Discouraging People From Scanning QR Codes?

Mall of America uses QR code event to drive awareness, sales on Black Friday on arikhanson.comIt’s a fact that more brands are using QR codes for marketing purposes.

However, as I pointed out in the last post, the number of people who are actually scanning QR codes is relatively low.

Let’s put aside some of the other reasons why consumers would choose not to scan QR codes (e.g., lack of a smartphone, lack of awareness about how or why to scan QR codes, etc.)

Instead, let’s think about what consumers actually get when they take the time to scan a QR code.

Often, the people who make arguments against QR codes mention the fact that it is a waste of time for the consumer if all they get when scan a QR code is another advertisement.

And, I can’t argue with them on this point.

In fact, if consumers scan QR codes a few times and only get a ho-hum experience, I would guess that they would be more likely to ignore QR codes in the future.

However, this is not a fault of the technology, itself. What it boils down to is a lack of creativity on the part of the advertiser who is using this technology.

Personally, I am a fan of using QR codes for marketing purposes in certain cases.

Do you want an example of what I think is a great use of this technology? If you scan the QR code in this post it will take you to Arik Hanson’s recent blog post about how the Mall of America used QR codes on Black Friday. (Note: Click here if you don’t have access to a QR-code reader. Also, his blog post is not mobile optimized. The only reason that I point this out is because I am now linking it to a QR code and mobile optimization is a must for any website that is linked to a QR code. But, that’s another post.)

Final Thoughts

What I fear is that many consumers will see a QR code in the future and say, “Oh, I tried those before. All I got was another darn advertisement.”

In other words, I think the lack of creativity by some advertisers could be making it more difficult for others to get consumers to interact with their brand by scanning QR codes.

What are your thoughts?

Chad Thiele

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

  • Paul Andrew Hallett

    This exact issue is something that led me to start my startup company: QRifi (
    There is a distinct lack of creative use that benefits the end user and that is something we are trying to resolve.
    Something we have also noticed is a poor understanding of what the technology actually is and this is something we’re also going to tackle: educating people about qrcode technology and it’s benefits.
    It’s good to see other people like yourself realising this, as I’d really like to see people start to do something more innovative and beneficial with qrcodes instead of using them to link to some rubbish advert.

    • Chad Thiele


      I agree with you, sir.

      I didn’t want to try to tackle all the issues in one post, as there are so many things to consider. Education about QR codes is definitely needed. I think that as more people purchase smartphones, QR code awareness will increase. However, if consumers don’t find value in the information that they receive, the percentage of people who regularly scan QR codes will remain low. I guess only time will tell.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Also, I signed up for information about your startup company. I look forward to hearing how things are going.


      Chad Thiele

  • Kevin Berger

    I agree completely. I couple problems might exist for this tool. First, lack of standardization. Secondly, I wondering if since not one company is promoting their use in the US then it is causing them to lack a champion and particular a champion who can educate marketers on the creative ways they can be used.

    • Chad Thiele


      It sounds like this is something that Paul Hallet’s startup company is going to try to accomplish. I just tweeted him and he said that they are going to try to help businesses worldwide. (They are located in the United Kingdom.)

      I’m going to email him to see if I can find out more about what QRifi is going to be doing.

      Also, I’m not sure if this is something that The Location Based Marketing Association would be championing. I am going to have to do some research on that also.

      This might be a good follow-up blog post.

      Thanks for the comment.


      Chad Thiele