August 15, 2011, 9:51 AM

6.2% of all mobile phone users have scanned a QR code

The 2-D bar code links consumers in the physical world to the mobile web.

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In June 2011, 14 million U.S. mobile phone users—6.2% of the total number of mobile phone users—scanned a QR code on a mobile device, finds web measurement firm comScore Inc. The study also analyzed the source and location of QR code scanning and found that users are most likely to scan codes found in newspapers and magazines and on product packaging, and they scan while at home or in a store.

“QR codes demonstrate just one of the ways in which mobile marketing can effectively be integrated into existing media and marketing campaigns to help reach desired consumer segments,” says Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile. “For marketers, understanding which consumer segments scan QR codes, the source and location of these scans, and the resulting information delivered, is crucial in developing and deploying campaigns that successfully utilize QR codes to further brand engagement.”

QR, short for Quick Response, is one type of 2-D bar code; others include Data Matrix and Microsoft Tag. QR codes are the most popular. A 2-D bar code can contain much more information than its 1-D counterpart, such as the Universal Product Code, or UPC. 2-D bar codes are placed on any printed material—signs, magazine ads, product packages, billboards—and link consumers from the physical world to the digital world.

To use a 2-D bar code, a consumer downloads a free code reader app from an app store. Opening the app, he points the smartphone camera at the 2-D code. The app scans the code and automatically opens the web browser, connecting the consumer to mobile web-based content.

The comScore data shows that 60.5% of those who scanned a QR code were male and 39.5% were female.

When it comes to age, consumers ages 25-34 dominate QR: 36.8% of those who scanned a QR code fell in this age range, comScore reports. 7.4% were 13-17, 16.6% were 18-24, 19.6% were 35-44, 12.4% were 45-54, 4.1% were 55-64, and 3.0% were 65 and older. The numbers do not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Many QR code scanners are fairly well to do. 36.1% of those who scanned a QR code earn $100,000 or more a year, comScore finds. 18.6% earn $75,000 to $100,000, 19.1% earn $50,000 to $75,000, 18.0% earn $25,000 to $50,000, and 8.3% make less than $25,000.

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