Posted in on December 1, 2011

A Q&A about QR codes and Baby Boomers

Have you considered incorporating a QR (Quick Response) code within marketing pieces? The geek in me loves this as another avenue for marketing to baby boomers and seniors because of how easily we can measure responses and pull prospects further through the purchase funnel.  But reports of senior usage (or lack of) leave me with two questions: 1) is it a viable application for baby boomers and beyond, and 2) what is the recipe for success for using QR codes to reach them?

During a recent coming together of the marketing minds of Creating Results we discussed the phenomenon of QR codes and their implications in marketing to the mature consumer.  We debated the benefits and challenges and explored several opportunities that could be leveraged for this cohort.

Just the facts, ma’am!

According to a recent article on , 72% of consumers could pick a QR code out of a line up and 55% of those aged 55 and better were familiar with the technology (surprisingly a higher percentage than those 45-54).  The bad news….30% of the same survey respondents across all age breakdowns didn’t know exactly what it was. Further, comScore reported  that those 55-64 and 65+ only make up 7% of overall QR code users.








Media Post’s Online Media Daily also examined usage within advertising avenues  noting that use of QR codes in print rose as much as 228% over the last year.









The QR Recipe for Mature Marketing Success

Mature consumers may not be familiar with this code today, but that shouldn’t stop us from leveraging it.  Here are a few ideas for how marketers can maximize their efforts and aid in fostering an awareness of QR codes among baby boomers and seniors.

1. Spell out HOW: So many times I see QR codes being utilized in advertising with no messaging that alludes to what to do with them.  If your target audience is 55+ consider incorporating directions. It could be as simple as “Scan with your smartphone QR reader.”

2. Create opportunities:  If your organization already offers classes and tech experiences to seniors, why not excite those seniors who already have an established smartphone comfort level? This is a great avenue for CCRCs. Retirement community North Hill, a client of Creating Results, is introducing QR code scanners to members of its iPad club (a group of 70+ early adopters).

3. Know where opportunities exist: One of the cardinal rules of marketing is knowing your target market.  If you know how Boomers typically access information you can determine marketing avenues that would most benefit and be most effective for QR codes.

According to Vertis, 52% of Boomer women rely on ad insertions and print/online coupons and incentives.  Have an upcoming insert scheduled?  Why not incorporate a QR code as a way to gauge how your target will respond.    And as with every avenue you will want to test, test and test until you ensure the perfect storm of elements to motivate to action.






4. Spell out WHY: Boomers and seniors are concerned about their digital privacy and how their information will be used. We heard that over and over again during our Social Silver Surfers research. And they’re incredibly time-strapped – working, caring for elderly parents and adult children and grandchildren. By spelling out the benefits at the other end of the QR code – the what’s in it for me? – you’ll earn their trust and earn a scan.

5. Make it worth while: As with any new technology there is a comfort curve for seniors, which is a slightly more extensive than their millennial counterparts.  Make sure that your QR code usage complements your marketing efforts and doesn’t just lead to a landing page replica of your ad.  No one appreciates that and seniors especially will find this inauthentic and unworthy of their time. (And you don’t want to get them there only to lose them).

Following this recipe will ensure that your QR codes get the love they deserve and become effective elements of your marketing plan.


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