Shopper marketing goes mobile

By Jeff Weidauer

Retailers must frequently discern between trends and fads in their daily business decisions. Trends are long-term changes in behavior, where fads are short-lived and fleeting in their impact. Both require an investment of time and money to make the most of, but how much of each depends on the likely return.

There is little doubt in the minds of most marketers that mobile is here to stay as an essential part of the media mix. For some target markets, mobile is the only viable method of contact. The question of which side of the trend/fad fence QR codes fall on is still up for healthy debate.
QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by a mobile device. They provide a link to some external content, in the form of a website, a video, or just about anything that can be accessed online. And while they are ubiquitous in Japan, the United States has been slow to adopt them as a way to engage mobile device users. Only in the past few months has there been any real awareness or knowledge of these codes.
To be clear, the question is not whether the relevant content that QR codes can provide is a long-term necessity; shoppers expect and even demand information about the products they buy. That expectation is not likely to subside. But the methodology, i.e. how the shopper accesses that information, will almost certainly change. Depending on how long it takes for QR codes to reach critical mass in terms of awareness and engagement, they could be very quickly supplanted by newer technolog