For many U.S. brands, QR codes may be one of the last mobile strategies considered to increase consumer engagement. But Air Wick has found a way to use the technology to bring an on-site experience in the biggest shopping mall in the U.S. into the digital realm.
The air freshener brand has set up a three-dimensional pop-up home in the Mall of America in Minneapolis to showcase its new Life Scents collection. The project features multiple rooms each curated by lifestyle experts around a specific scent that relates to Air Wick’s new products.
When consumers visit the Air Wick house, they will be given a QR code card to register and create their own profiles online. Visitors can further use the QR code card to scan and save tips to their personal profiles in real time during lifestyle workshops. The brand also encourages visitors to share their favorite lifestyle tips on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter by using the hashtag #HomeIsInTheAir.
Shira Anderson, marketing manager at mobile app maker Como, thinks Air Wick’s approach of using QR codes is a smart one.
“The ease of use provided by a QR code [should transform] the campaign into something that will engage consumers without frustrating or overwhelming them,” Anderson says.
However, she adds, as marketers become more and more visually conscientious, QR codes are becoming a less-than-preferred mobile approach. But she believes that compared to other modern mobile techniques, QR codes can reflect a consumer’s genuine interest in a brand.
“The fact that [consumers] scan a QR code, rather than receive [branded messages] automatically, indicates real user agency, a precious commodity in an era of increasingly ‘smart’ communication techniques,” she says. “[Consumers] choose to scan a QR code because they really want to, in order to receive information or links they really plan to use.”
QR codes have been very popular in the Asian markets like Japan and China, because in those countries, smartphones usually come with QR reading apps pre-installed on the device. But this is not the case in the U.S., according to Joseph Drambarean, director of strategy at Punchkick Interactive, a full-service mobile marketing company.
“On iOS devices, for example, which enjoy the highest purchase power per active session, it’s impossible to pre-install software,” Drambarean explains.
Perhaps because of this, U.S. consumers are not as familiar with the concept of QR codes as their Asian peers, and therefore brands that seek to use the technology in their marketing campaigns can face some execution challenges.
“QR code technology requires an application on the phone, which can be a hurdle to adoption, but it’s the same hurdle for beacons. But unlike beacon or near-field communication (NFC) technology, teaching a consumer how to perform a QR code scan creates an additional challenge, with every app developer taking their own approach to the user experience of lining up, focusing, and scanning the code with their phone,” says Dave Wentker, chief executive (CEO) of in-location marketing platform Tapcentive.
To avoid the app installation issue, Air Wick has set up three to four iPads on the table for each room in the pop-up, so that visitors can scan their QR cards right through the iPad camera by clicking on the button built into the brand’s microsite. With just one scan, consumers can save any tips (which are hosted on the microsite already) they want in the Air Wick house to their personal profiles. When they go home, they will receive a personal email with a customized link that directs them to their personal profile on the microsite, where they can review the lifestyle tips they saved on site and explore additional tips.
“Air Wick’s campaign is quite clever in the use of their QR code in the fact that the QR acts almost like a unique identifier for the purposes of logging into an experience,” says Drambarean. “It really comes down to what will create the most effective conversion while on the ground. It seems like since this was a campaign that provides some significant on-site play time with the display, it makes sense to provide the user with a ‘unique’ way to capture the experience further using a QR code.”
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