RedPeg Logo

Zooming in on the QR Code

May 2022
  • The proximity marketing market was valued at $31.5 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $211 billion by 2029 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the practice of QR codes into the mainstream, making them THE touchless technology solution, seeing a 750% increase in QR downloads since the start of 2021 
  • 47% of smartphone users agree that QR codes make life easier in a touchless world, and 39% want to see them used more broadly in the future 
  • QR codes are the conduit to a world of unlimited digital experiences when supported by experiential capabilities that bring holds it all together by tracking and guiding the customer through 


Proximity marketing is a communication strategy that businesses use to maximize customer engagement in real-time within a contained space. This strategy allows marketers to deliver personalized campaigns that are mobile-specific. According to the VMR (Verified Market Research), the proximity marketing market was valued at $31.5 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $211 billion by 2029.

Proximity marketing strategies include: QR (Quick Response) codes, WiFi (Wireless Fidelity), NFC (Near Field Communication), RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification), Geofencing, and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons. Although very different in nature, these strategies have the same outcomes. They increase user retention as visitors begin to engage. They offer personalized experiences for the desired target audience. They give businesses a competitive advantage of standing out within a contained space. And of course, they open the door for more conversion as they lead visitors to the path of consideration leading to purchase.


What is a QR code?

Invented originally as an improvement of its older sibling, QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes. The invention was made public in 1994 and aided in the digital transformation of brands, businesses, and marketers.

How does it work?

A Quick Response code is a static code that holds information only transferable if scanned, requiring a camera that uses optics technology to recognize the code. Upon scanning, the user will be redirected to a URL that could hold a myriad of information or data, making QR codes the conduit to a world of unlimited digital experiences.

Are all QR codes the same?

No. While they all seem visually similar, the real value and technology lie in the back end of the platform powering it. Some free or basic QR code services offer limited functionality and analysis, such as those you’ve probably interacted with at restaurants. Others, however, offer more complex services in performance analysis, increased security, dynamic customer profiling, and remarketing capabilities.

How did the QR code gain popularity?

With the rise of Smartphones around 2012, the QR code trend exploded in popularity around the globe. Suddenly you saw them on everything from packaging, marketing material, brochures, guerilla marketing, stickers, and all other print material. Due to non-seamless user journeys, QR codes only saw brief spikes in adoption. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerated the practice of this proximity marketing strategy into the mainstream. During this period when social distancing and hygiene concerns encouraged the use of contactless technology, QR codes became the leading touchless solution, seeing a 750% increase in QR downloads since the start of 2021. It is reported that 86% of smartphone users have scanned a QR code at least once, and 36% scan at least one QR code a week. Moreover, 47% agree that QR codes make life easier in a touchless world, and 39% want to see QR codes used more broadly in the future. (Data by MobileIron)


Woman Scanning QR Code

For years, museums have used QR codes as digital extensions of physical objects. Instead of having a human guide, or cluttering the display with overwhelmingly long text, museums resorted to placing QR codes near the displayed object to allow the visitor to easily pull up extended information, making the museum visit a little more interactive and engaging.


Reminiscent of the DVD bouncing logo, the Coinbase Super Bowl commercial was one of the most successful TV ads in recent history. The simple idea of having a mysterious QR code bounce around the screen and redirect engagers to the Coinbase website was so effective in bringing in traffic, that it ended up crashing the website within 10 seconds of the Ad running.

Augmented Reality (AR)

QR codes can also be the trigger for AR experiences. To promote the launch of the new all-electric vehicle, Porsche transformed their print marketing into an Augmented Reality experience with just a QR code. Once scanned, the user would be redirected to a Web-based Augmented Reality platform that transforms the printed page into a dynamic display of the newer Porsche Taycan model. The print activation was featured in Vogue, GQ, Emirates Woman, and Forbes.

Drone Shows

To promote its upcoming SciFi series, Paramount+ flew 400 drones over the sky of Austin, forming a 300 x 600-foot tall QR code that was scannable, linking to the trailer for their upcoming series “Halo”. The QR code suspended over the cityscape created an instant buzz. But it wasn’t the first time a drone QR code was used for advertisement, this original stunt was first performed in Shanghai by video-streaming company Bilibili on the first anniversary of the release of the game Princess Connect! Re:Dive.


    Although QR code uses may vary, at the core, they’re the same and act as digital extensions to the physical world. So, it makes sense that when launching a campaign supported by QR codes, they act as digital support in the user’s journey. For starters, they guide the planning phase by acting as a catalyst of experience, extending the information digitally to the consumer. In the aftermath of a campaign, they serve as channels for feedback. Finally, they will end up tracking the life cycle of an attendee from the moment of interest in the campaign to the conclusion of the activation.

    While QR codes have failed to maintain momentum in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic has cemented their place in society. With adaptability to the multiple phases within a campaign, QR codes will remain a desirable component that extends limitless digital experiences to the physical world.

    Want more of The Direct Hit?