Corporate Eye

QR Code Scanning Among Smartphone Owners in Europe Doubles in 2012

qrcode scanning eu5According to research from comScore’s MobiLens service, the number of Europeans who scanned quick response codes (QR codes) using their smartphones nearly doubled (up 96%) in the past year to 17.4 million users. That’s equal to 14.1% of the total smartphone audience in Europe and shows that European consumers are starting to understand the value of QR code scanning. That’s great news for brand marketers.

The study found that Germany ranked first for usage of QR codes with 18.6% of the country’s smartphone users scanning QR codes. That tops the penetration in the four other leading European markets (Spain = 16.0% penetration, France = 12.5% penetration, Italy = 11.9% penetration, and the United Kingdom = 11.4% penetration).

The payoff for scanning QR codes for the EU5 smartphone audience came in the form of product information for 3 out of 4 scans (71.7%). Event information was delivered as the result of 31.8% of scans, and coupons or other offers were delivered for 19.4% of scans. Less common were application downloads (13.4%) and charity or cause information (12.1%). These results were fairly similar for each individual country’s smartphone audience as well.

To put the growing popularity of QR code scanning among smartphone owners in the five leading European markets into perspective, consider the following penetration rates for various common mobile activities as identified in the comScore MobiLens data. Keep in mind, 51.3% of mobile users in the EU5 use smartphones.

  • Sent text messages = 83.3%
  • Used applications (excluding pre-installed apps) = 45.2%
  • Used browser = 44.6%
  • Access social networking sites or blogs = 30.6%
  • Played games = 30.2%
  • Listened to music = 29.2%
  • Scanned QR codes = 14.1%

Clearly, there is still a lot of room for growth in QR code usage among EU5 consumers, but rapid growth in their use during the past year bodes well for the future. Marketers should focus on creating useful QR code campaigns that deliver timely information, particularly when that information can be accessed at the moment of the purchase decision when consumers are in stores and seeking that little something extra (such as additional information, a review, comparison pricing, or a discount) that can tip them in the direction to pull out their wallets and buy.

Image: Brian Suda

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.