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US Ahead of Western Europe in QR Code Usage

Consumers most familiar with QR codes on magazines, printed materials

A recent study of QR code usage among consumers in the US, UK, Germany and France found that Americans were the most likely to have used the technology. According to the study of 2,000 Americans and 1,000 Europeans undertaken by Pitney Bowes, US consumers were more likely to report having scanned QR codes across every medium by which the codes were delivered.

For QR codes printed in magazines, nearly two out of five Americans between 18 to 24 years old and 36% of Americans between 25 to 34 years old reported having scanned one. In Germany, where usage was next highest, 27% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 23% of 25- to 34-year-olds had tried scanning barcodes in magazines.

On average, young adults across every country were most likely to have tried scanning a magazine, at 27%. These consumers tended to be more familiar with scanning barcodes located on printed materials such as mail, posters or packaging—21% had tried each. They were less likely to scan QR codes delivered through digital screens, e.g. on a website (13%), in an email (9%) or on TV (7%).

QR codes may not yet have hit critical mass in Europe, but the audience size is still significant. In July 2012, comScore reported that there were 5.1 million QR code users in Germany, 3.3 million in the UK and another 3.4 million in Spain, which was not included in the Pitney Bowes report. The study found that Germany also led in QR code market penetration—18.6% of smartphone owners there were QR code users, meaning that well over a majority of smartphone owners still have not yet embraced QR codes.

Marketers implementing QR codes may still have work to do in Europe, but some data suggests that familiarity is the key to increased usage. A November Econsultancy survey of consumers in Australia found that 54% of males and 46% of females who had knowledge of QR codes had gone on to use one. As more smartphone users in the US and Europe learn about QR codes, the percentage scanning will surely rise.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Web Development Top B2B Priority in 2013” and “Explosive UK Tablet Market Fosters New Behaviors.”

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