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The Other Day I Scanned A Banana (The Good
Yes, that’s right, a single, offline, real banana. Latin name Musa Acuminata. More specifically, I used my smartphone to scan a sticker on the banana. The banana itself had no power supply, or web connection.
I happened to buy this particular banana at a Wal-Mart in Florida (while on a fishing trip) and noticed that the ubiquitous banana “fruit company” sticker contained a mobile quick response (QR code).
I opened the scanner on my iPhone and scanned the code. In doing so, I opened a portal to the internet, a live action window into an online mobile-optimized experience that taught me something new. That engaged me. Cool.
Seldom had I considered what company grew and shipped and sold the bananas to the grocery store I bought them from. Did you know that the Del Monte Fresh Produce Company was founded in 1886? (This is the year Apache warrior Geronimo surrendered and the Statue Of Liberty was dedicated). Did you know that Del Monte has 42,095 “likes” on Facebook and that they also sell a fruit called a Pluot? Did you know they own the domain http://www.Fruits.com?
Well, now you do, because I learned this on the Del Monte mobile-formatted Facebook page that opened when I scanned the QR code.
It took me about 5 seconds to scan and engage with the company whose product I was about to eat. It was not hard, it was easy. I would do it again.
The Other Day I Scanned A Banana (The Bad)
Yesterday I got my chance. This time I bought a banana at Wilson Farms in Lexington, MA. It too had a QR code on it’s sticker. When I scanned it with the same iPhone app, my mobile browser opened a standard large-format website for Chiquita Bananas, crammed on my little iPhone screen. Lame.
The QR code sticker said “Scan To Win!”, but I could see no easy way to sign up for anything and I could barely read the website on my small iPhone screen. I pinched a zoomed-in a few times and then shut off the phone.
Unlike the Del Monte banana, the Chiquita QR code scan offered up a poor mobile experience and I was left with the distinct feeling that Chiquita needed a lesson in mobile marketing. Perhaps they will read this and call me.
Action-Enabling Ads…and Products
Some naysayers in the mobile marketing business scoff at QR codes as a gimmick or a passing fad. They talk about how hard it is to open the scanner app and actually complete a scan that opens a mobile browser window. I disagree. In lieu of another option that is this easy and simple, I find them a powerful mobile engagement tool.
In 2011, almost 60% of Twitter and Facebook users said they scanned a QR code. This is a LOT of people. In my opinion, any marketer or brand manager who sees this as merely a passing fad needs to open their eyes. QR codes allow a low-cost “window to the mobile web” to be attached to anything. Nearly 10% of ads in magazines today feature QR codes that “action enable” a static, lifeless print ad and allow a tracked consumer interaction to occur.
Ninety percent of all QR code scans are done to obtain more information about the products and services advertised. If done right (like the Del Monte banana example) this can result in metrics that can justify an ad spend as ROI. This could be in the form of contest sign-ups, new Facebook “likes”, or even transactions. If done hastily and without thought to the mobile experience being provided (like the Chiquita banana), the result can be a poor customer experience and a squandered chance to engage mobile consumers.
Again, done the right way, QR codes are an easy, low cost way to add a mobile “window to the web” to any static ad or physical product, to drive consumer engagement. For print ads, custom mobile landing pages can be generated, to maintain the look and feel of the ad campaign.
If linked to an integrated mobile commerce site that supports deep linking (shameless plug for Unbound Commerce), a QR code can be a call to action that allows a consumer to convert a purchase right then and there. If a little “cha-ching” did not go off in the head of online retailers, it should have.
Low Barrier To Entry
The barrier to entry is so low, that there is little reason marketing depts should NOT be experimenting with QR codes. Smart eCommerce Directors that are launching mobile commerce sites should be telling them to, since they can use QR codes to drive tracked incremental commerce though their mobile commerce site!
The addition of a QR code can transform a static, non-linked print ad, in-store sign, or even a real product (like a banana) into a powerful engine for tracked mobile or social engagement and commerce. I see QR codes as a viable and exciting new way to infuse tracked links into marketing, so literally anything can come with an integrated mobile call to action.
I had no idea two bananas would show me this, but they did.
Certainly, scanning a sticker on a banana is not going to redefine mobile commerce or set the mobile/social marketing world on-fire. It is, however, a lesson regarding how easy it is to engage increasingly-mobile consumers by adding a link, a mobile call to action, that, when applied to other more commercial mobile commerce scenarios has the ability to generate real sales lift, as ROI.
Wilson Kerr is VP of Business Development and Sales at Unbound Commerce. And yes, he is bananas about mobile commerce and mobile marketing and linking the two together. Contact him today at Wilson@UnboundCommerce.com or via Twitter @WLLK.