comScore’s latest data from its MobiLens service shows the usage of QR codes among European owners has doubled over the past year.

The data which looks at the usage of QR codes on smartphones across the five leading European markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) shows users scanning QR codes with a smartphone in these countries has grown by 96% in the past year to 17.4 million.

Germany is leading the way in QR codes usage with 5 million people scanning QR codes via their smartphone, a 96% year on year increase. Spain was the fastest growing, having seen 215% year on year increase with 3.4 million smartphone owners scanning QR codes.

Smartphone Audience Scanning QR Codes via their Devices

Earlier this year, market research company SKOPOS did a similar study looking at the usage of QR codes in Germany and the UK. They also found that twice as many people in Germany scanned a QR code than people in the UK.

Darren Mark, the MD and Chief Consultant at SKOPOS Market Insight attributes this to the fact that German’s are culturally much more into mobiles and tech per se, as he explains:

“From our extensive research and experience in both markets, we have established that Germans appreciate QR Codes more than the Brits because for starters, German-based brands heavily invested in and adopted QR Codes during 2010-2011 driving trial and usage through 2011 into 2012. This has also led to some ‘critical mass’ with those not using mobile barcodes feeling that maybe they should be, or perhaps being recommended to by friends. Additionally, and as important, Germans are culturally MUCH more into mobile as a channel and tech per se. This contrasts say to the UK’s love of Social Media; Brits are more open – and Germans relatively more closed, and less into ‘sharing’.”

The usage of QR codes in the UK grew by 43%, however this only represents 11.4% of the total smartphone audience in the UK, making it the least penetrated market amongst the EU5 countries.

The most popular result of scanning a QR code across all EU5 countries was receiving product information, making nearly 3 in 4 scans directed to this. The second most popular result of scanning a QR code was to receive event information.

“Consumer usage of QR codes offers a new and exciting opportunity for marketers to help move consumers further down the purchase funnel,” said Hesham Al-Jehani, European mobile product manager at comScore. “By offering more detailed product information or related content, QR codes bring consumer vital information in their consideration of a particular product or service. With smartphones now in the majority of consumers’ pockets, access to the sort of information they might get on their computer when researching a product online can help retailers improve their conversion in-store.”

Perhaps marketers never fully got to grips with QR codes, providing poor experiences, there is a whole blog dedicated to poorly executed QR codes. Perhaps with new technology such as augmented reality starting to emerge, QR codes never really had a chance to come to the forefront as a strong digital marketing tool.

Lea Pachta

Lea Pachta