4 QR Code Trends Transforming Marketing in 2024

By Sharat Potharaju, CEO and Co-Founder, Uniqode (formerly Beaconstac)

Imagine you’re planning to update your home office. While browsing a home improvement store, you’re drawn in by potential paint colors that catch your eye. But before committing to the purchase of pricey paint, you use your phone to scan the QR code on the paint sample. The code whisks you to a website featuring in-store coupons and photos of the paint color used in real life. This omnichannel marketing, where the physical and digital worlds merge, elevates the customer experience and increases the likelihood of a purchase.

Consumers have embraced hybrid shopping experiences and expect brands to follow suit. Nearly 90% of shoppers use smartphones in-store to research products, making QR codes the perfect bridge between the two worlds. Here are four ways to weave QR codes into your 2024 marketing strategies and unlock a world of boosted conversions and happy customers.

1. AI-powered aesthetics

Artificial intelligence (AI) is prompting a QR code makeover in 2024. Some marketers have ditched the standard black-and-white squares for a bolder, more visually captivating approach. AI unlocks a treasure trove of possibilities, allowing you to generate QR codes from stunning images that integrate with your brand’s overall identity.

Beyond aesthetics, this shift elevates user experience. By integrating QR codes into brand designs and logos, you create a seamless customer journey that’s functional and visually striking.

AI-generated QR codes offer a subtle yet powerful way to tell a brand story, captivate and engage with customers and leave a lasting impression. For example, travel credit card Scapia inspired vacation-seeking customers with billboards featuring AI-generated QR codes that seamlessly blend into photos of beautiful travel destinations. Coca-Cola promoted its Coke Studio music platform by placing artistic AI-generated QR codes at theme parks, movie theaters and stadiums. The codes included visual components of the beverage brand’s Be Who You Are (Real Magic) music video.

2. Enhanced social media engagement

This year, forging authentic bonds with consumers in the digital era demands a solid social media presence. Why? Social media offers a golden opportunity to reach a massive audience. Nine out of 10 Americans use social media.

QR codes can help you turn real-world encounters into social media magnets. Link QR codes on packaging, products and posters to attract more visitors and boost the chances of snagging new followers, subscribers, shares or likes.

While Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube reign supreme, social media success hinges on understanding your target audience’s platform preference. Research where your audience spends its time online and establish a brand presence on each platform. You can generate dedicated QR codes for each platform or create an all-in-one QR code with a landing page linking all social media platforms. Customers pick the content they want to view before they’re whisked away to their desired platform.

To truly ignite social media buzz, link QR codes to interactive elements. Imagine a fun effect or filter customers can use and share on their own feeds. This entertainment factor turns them into brand ambassadors, amplifying your reach through their networks.

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3. First-party data collection

Over 75% of marketers still depend on third-party cookies. Yet, research shows that 67% of consumers want brands to solely use first-party data. Soon, brands will have no choice but to make the switch. Firefox and Safari already barred access to third-party cookies, with Google Chrome set to follow suit in the latter half of this year.

Don’t think of the third-party data phase-out as a burden but an opportunity. Third-party data prevents brands from building direct customer relationships. It relies on assumptions about interests instead of learning preferences straight from the source, leading to shaky marketing strategies built on guesses versus real insight. Another problem with third-party data? It’s often collected without consumer consent — a strategy that’s antithetical to the growing expectation and demand for transparency.

By shifting to first-party data, you enhance personalization, build consumer trust and develop stronger customer connections. First-party data reveals customers’ preferences, allowing brands to curate a personalized shopping experience.

QR codes are the ideal tools for collecting these first-party insights. After they’ve made a purchase, customers can scan codes on product packaging. These codes can connect people to forms requesting information like email addresses and phone numbers so a brand or company can send personalized offers, coupons and other pertinent, targeted information. Dynamic QR codes, in particular, reveal scan locations, volumes and timing to optimize marketing campaigns and can be updated in real-time.

 4. Interactive CTV ads

The rise of free streaming spells a new era of potential for brands. As consumers cut costs and flock to ad-supported services — with one in three U.S. users now subscribed — content platforms offer a prime venue to reach the right audiences.

Leverage QR codes to revolutionize connected TV (CTV) ads by transforming passive watching into active engagement. With almost 90% of Americans using a second screen (like a smartphone) while watching TV, the stage is set for QR codes to make an impact. A compelling ad appears featuring a scannable code, and viewers only have to lift their phones to scan the technology and unlock additional content, promotions, or app downloads.

By bridging the physical and digital worlds with one simple scan, QR codes drive immediate action, magnify campaign impact by reducing the frequency at which ads must run, and significantly boost campaign ROI.

Integrating QR codes into 2024 marketing strategies powers brand success now and into the future. QR codes provide data-driven insights that unlock more effective, efficient and impactful campaigns as consumer behaviors and technology evolve.


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