The QR Code Has Made A Significant Comeback – But Why?

One marketing tool that has seen an interesting and significant resurgence that has crept into our everyday lives (and no, we’re not talking about Tik-Tok!), is the QR code.

Out of necessity (and the many virus-related restrictions in restaurants, medical facilities, and other service providers), this once “out of vogue” matrix barcode once again gained traction. Beyond establishing awareness and engaging customers, businesses needed to provide a “touchless” option for everything from menus to checking in for appointments and more.

WIth larger adoption of the technology, savvy brands are using QR codes for marketing and taking customer engagement to the next level.

Learn the 9 massively creative ways you can use them too.

QR Codes For Marketing: History

The square filled with black and white shapes known as the Quick Response code, or QR code for short, got its start in the 1990s. As Forbes notes, Masahiro Hara is credited as the inventor of the QR code which was initially used by the Japanese company Denso Wave as a way to track vehicles going through the manufacturing process.

At first, it required a special QR code reader, similar to the ones retailers use to scan bar codes. But as smartphones became more prevalent, people could download a QR code reader app that made it easy to scan the code with a tap of the finger.

QR Code Marketing Coupon

QR Codes Supported Green Initiatives

By the end of the 1990s, marketers were using QR codes as a way to send people to their landing pages and other information on a company website. For people who wanted to adopt a “greener” approach to their business, QR codes were a great way to do just that. For instance, at trade shows companies could offer a QR code rather than printed brochures.

QR codes continued to be popular through the 2000s, with Apple even integrating a QR reader into its 2017 iPhone camera.

The Resurrection Of QR Codes

Then, as quickly as they gained in popularity, QR codes began to fall out of favor. Older people were not as eager to learn how to use QR codes, and others were not interested in having to download a special app.  Gaining access to information that was once easily accessible in more traditional ways now required more effort.

In the spring of 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, the QR code resurged. Restaurants began to use QR codes in lieu of a printed menu, businesses used them as a way for clients to check in for their appointments and companies utilized them for mailing list additions.

QR codes appeared once again on For Sale signs in front of homes and, like before, they were used to connect people to landing pages.

QR Code Marketing

Benefits Of QR Codes In Marketing

In addition to helping businesses and customers complete basic tasks during the pandemic, QR codes are now an excellent addition to virtually any marketing plan. As Christophe Trappe notes, there are definitely reasons for companies to continue to use QR codes for marketing, in 2022 and beyond. For instance, the technology has significantly improved over the last decade.

Other smartphone companies followed Apple’s lead and most phones today can read a QR code when they are in camera mode—no separate QR code reader required. Also, those matrix barcodes can hold an astonishing amount of data when compared to a standard barcode. Specifically, a QR code will hold up to 2,500 numeric characters, as compared to 43 on a barcode.

In general, QR codes work whenever marketing departments would like to redirect customers from an offline to an online experience. From bringing more people to a website, social media page, providing product information and more, the new and improved QR code technology will continue to enhance and improve many businesses and their marketing messages.

QR Code Ideas

QR codes, while effective when used in restaurants, on For Sale signs and at trade shows, can also be utilized in more novel and creative ways, which are outstanding attributes for marketing.

Best in Show: QR Code Tech Takes South by Southwest Music Festival

Our vote for one of the MOST novel and creative ways to use QR codes was the South by Southwest music festival, where a huge glowing QR code was created in the sky by several dozen drones that hovered above downtown Austin, Texas. And yes, in case you are wondering, it was clickable; holding a smartphone camera up to the code took users to a site promoting the new Paramount+ TV series “Halo.”


According to The Hollywood Reporter, the drones and QR code were part of a marketing campaign from Paramount+ to promote its upcoming sci-fi series Halo. Courtesy: DENNIS HEGSTAD

9 Truly Creative Ways You Can Use QR Codes

Other ideas for unique QR codes for marketing that think, well, outside of the traditional matrix box include:

  1.  As a temporary tattoo that connects to a company’s social media account.
  2.  Added to a wedding invitation instead of an RSVP card
  3.  At the ballpark, featuring the day’s roster
  4.  In a bar bathroom, connected to a taxi service
  5.  Next to artwork in museums or galleries to provide more information than the standard blurb
  6.  On a cocktail napkin to promote a law firm/real estate firm or any other company
  7.  Providing customers with ingredients or recipes of your product when they scan the QR code
  8.  As an e-learning tool (link to your podcast, audio or video course) – this provides the ‘real book’ digital dimension aspect
  9.  Brink back the thrilling surprise when e-gifting, provide the QR code on a card or in an email to see the online gift

Want to generate your own QR Code? Check out QR Tiger to generate your own QR code with your logo, today!

QR codes are going strong and it’s a great marketing tool to include in your overall strategy. Professional Punch can help you determine the best tools and strategies that work for your organization to improve your digital presence! Don’t hesitate to contact us here.