QR Codes Surge

They’re Back! QR Codes Surge Amid COVID-19 Technology Changes

How we used QR codes to drive rural audiences to digital channels through direct mail

QR Codes: You probably used one to scan your badge at a trade show in 2011. Or, you might have seen one in a retail display and wondered how it worked. But the QR code trend seemed to fizzle as quickly as it emerged.

Enter: COVID-19. The immediate demand for touchless technology coupled with tech advancements and familiarity sent QR code use surging in 2020. Today, six in 10 (59%) of all respondents say QR codes will be a permanent part of using their phone in the future, according to a June study from The Drum/YouGov.

When QR codes first appeared on the scene, many consumers didn’t understand their purpose and the technology was still clunky. In a post-COVID world, touchless is often the norm, if not the requirement, and smartphone technology has advanced to make the process more seamless.

Tamara Alesi, YouGov’s sector head of media, summarized it perfectly. “For the first time, QR codes have a real purpose,” she said. “In a world where ‘touchless’ became a mandate to protect consumer health, the value proposition of the QR code finally became clear to the world at large. Now consumers are using QR codes in everyday life, to view menus, pay restaurant bills, get more information on home and car sales, and more.”

A Rhea + Kaiser case study  

At Rhea + Kaiser, we capitalized on this trend for our client Central Garden & Pet (CGP), a market leader in the Garden and Pet industries with leading brands including Farnam, Horse Health and Vita Flex. We support their equine trade business and are always looking for ways to connect retailers with their brands directly, as opposed to primarily through distributors.

In 2020 we launched the Equine Retailer Marketing Center (ERMC), a content hub where retailers could download the latest program and promotion information. But CGP did not have a robust email database to drive traffic to the site. This rural audience was skeptical of geo-targeted ads designed to collect their contact information, so we launched a sweepstakes through a channel we knew they trusted: direct mail.

Each of CGP’s 6,000+ retailers received two direct mail pieces featuring a QR code that took them directly to the ERMC to enter their contact information for a chance to win a prize. The result was overwhelming success.

The QR Code generated 1,333 views to the sweepstakes form and 943 submissions. That’s a 70.74% conversion rate on retailers, 57% of whom were new contacts. An impressive 82% of all submissions (1,173 total) agreed to receive regular promotional emails, enabling ongoing communication directly from CGP.

Technology is always changing, sometimes making what’s old new again. We used the QR code resurgence to create a bridge from direct mail to digital and successfully reached a rural audience that is often difficult to target in digital spaces.​

If you would like to learn more about how Rhea + Kaiser can help you navigate the changing technology landscape and find ways to reach niche audiences, contact our Business Development Director Gino Tomaro at gtomaro@rkconnect.com.

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