Know Your Market: QR Code Age Demographics

In marketing, it is often very tempting to trust “common sense” when steering a campaign or adopting a new technology. This can often lead to false assumptions and missed opportunities. QR codes are relatively new technology, being adopted by more users each day, but who exactly is it that is doing the scanning?

It is tempting to think of the average person who scans a QR code as sharing many of the “typical” features of the early adopter. The “common sense” image of a smartphone user as portrayed by the media for example, would include:

  • Young, typically under 35 years old

  • High degree of familiarity with the internet

  • Middle-to-upper-middle-class with ready access to mobile technology

  • Frequent user of social media and text messaging services

In this case, these assumptions may indeed lead to reaching an audience, but the message may be received more readily by a demographic different than intended. In 2011, Google released statistics indicating that the average age of an individual who scanned a QR code had risen to between 35 and 44 years old, with that segment comprising 25% of the market. In fact, 58% of the population studied was over the age of 35, with the younger segment of the population between 18 and 24 making up only 16% of QR code scanners.

With this in mind, one can develop a slightly modified version of the average individual QR Code user:

  • Likely 35 or older

  • Financially stable enough to own and/or maintain a mobile device

  • Connected enough to understand what a QR code is, and how it works

  • Willing to try a new technology

This simple trend can be used to suggest that marketers may be more interested in QR codes for products and services which appeal to a more mature audience. For the purposes of retail, the marketing of larger ticket items may usefully exploit QR Codes to allow for expanded consumer research opportunities. The marketing of products and services aimed at the young may still be usefully enhanced by QR Codes, but such efforts may be best received if they are designed to appeal as much to parents and grandparents as they are to the final consumer.

It is beyond the scope of this writing to describe the average individual who will scan a QR Code, and even if such a thing were possible, it is continually changing. For developing technologies used in marketing, the make-or-break point comes when a marketer understands that their primary demographic may be a critical, and moving target.