Accidentally, I noticed a research which was done by Nielsen and Gartner (2010) revealed the recent tendency of the use of smart phones among Americans. The result confirmed that the possession of smart phones had overtaken feature phones by 2011 in America. Today, smart phones have become the essential in our life undoubtedly.
Marketers also noticed this obvious trend of the application of high-tech, then, they tried to develop more business opportunities. I guess you are all familiar with this—2D bar code. Within these years, the use of mobile bar codes is accelerating rapidly in the field of advertising and marketing. This week, I will focus on the relationship between these mobile bar codes and consumer behavior.
Actually, bar codes have been used in marketing for a long time. A (1D) UPC bar code which is used to uniquely identify a particular item can be seen in every product you bought. Comparing with UPC bar code, 2D bar codes are becoming popular in these years, and contain more information that could be obtained easily for mobile consumers. They are now widely used for advertising in magazines, on posters, newspapers or even product packaging and television screens.
In terms of the relationship between consumer behavior and 2D barcodes, an American organization (CMB) has done a survey and gained some useful information.
It was found that curiosity and information gathering are top reasons for consumers to scan the bar code. Almost 50% of people scan the code just because they are curious what it would do. It sounds interesting, so I searched more information about curiosity. Litman and Spielberger (2003) defined curiosity as a “reaction to novel stimuli that involves feelings of interest or uncertainty and a desire for acquiring new knowledge and new sensory experience that motivates exploratory behavior”. It is believed that curiosity is an effective variable in learning, which can facilitate people to explore and study new knowledge (Boyle, 1989). Just as in the situation of facing the bar code, people are curious about its usage and what will happen after scan it, so the curiosity motivates them to do the scanning. The curiosity motives are also included in the five motivational dimensions proposed by Sheth (1975).
In addition, about 43% of people are interested in using a smart phone to scan the bar code for the access to discounts or free items. Discounted or free items can motivate consumers’ purchasing behavior, for they reduce or eliminate the risk of buyer’s regret (Ahmetoglu et al., 2010). Once consumers spend something on the products, a risk has produced due to such expenditure. Hence, free things escape such risk as nothing is spent on the product, promoting people’ preference for free items. In my own experience, when I knew I could gain free ice-cream as long as I scan the bar code in a certain store, I tried without hesitation. So, you can see how attractive the bar code is in this situation. Lastly, words like “scan it” can usually be seen near a 2D bar code. This kind of word calls for consumers’ action, which also stimulates them to scan the bar code.
The bar code above appears on Recipe.com’s magazine which aims at providing information about ingredients in a recipe for their readers. The emergence of bar code also has brought some benefits for merchandisers. Basically, it saves more space for the information and reduces cost. Moreover, the most valuable benefit comes from the business opportunities brought by the application of bar codes. Via the collection of the number of consumers’ scanning, merchandisers are able to gain a heat map. On this map, they will discover or promote their regional business plan through the analysis of the data. Lastly, scans of consumers offer the feedback on content to publishers. It can be discovered which part is the most popular or interesting in consumers’ mind by observing the frequency of scanning.
To sum up, merchandisers use 2D bar code to gain more profits from motivating consumers’ purchasing behavior. And consumers tend to scan these bar code out of curiosity or rewards. It is common to see 2D bar codes in the street now, who knows whether or not there will be a 3D bar code one day.
Ahmetoglu G. et al. (2010), “Pricing Practices: Their Effects on Consumer Behaviour and Welfare”, Mountainview Learning, March 2010.
Boyle, G.J. (1989). “Breadth-depth of state-trait curiosity? A factor analysis of state-trait curiosity and stateanxiety scales”, Personal and Individual Differences, 10, 175-183.
Litman, J.A., & Spielberger,C.D. (2004). “The measurement of perceptual curiosity”, Personality and Individual Differences, 36,
J. N. Sheth (1975), “A Psychological Model of Travel Mode Selection,” Urbana, IL: Bureau of Economic and Business Research of the University of Illinois, Working Paper p.291, November.