We recently published the results of a survey of US consumers which found that 64% don’t know what QR codes are. Now we’ve repeated the survey for UK consumers. 

According to a survey of 1,500 UK consumers conducted online using TolunaQuick, 31% knew what QR codes were or what they are for, and 19% had scanned one on their mobiles. 

Here are a few highlights from the survey…

Do people know what a QR code is? 

We showed the QR code image shown above to the survey respondents and asked if they knew what it was.

This was an open question, so we had a variety of responses.

I’ve been relatively generous, counting responses like ‘barcode’, ‘a symbol for scanning with a mobile’ as, even if they couldn’t identify it by name, they knew its purpose. 

31% knew what the it was, with just under 10% able to correctly identify it as a QR code, 12% used the word barcode to describe it, while others knew it was something to be scanned by a mobile. 

How many have scanned a QR code? 

Overall, 19% of respondents had scanned a QR code on their mobile, compared with 11% for the US survey

The survey was conducted online, which suggests that respondents are more tech-savvy, so this figure may be higher than it would be if conducted offline. 

The results vary between age groups. 32% of 18 to 34 year olds had scanned a QR code, 15.5% of the 35 to 54 age group, and just 7% of over 55s. 

Do people know what QR codes are for? 

36% of respondents know what QR codes are for, the same percentage as in the US study. 

Awareness was much higher in the 18 to 34 age group (50%) compared to 33% for 35 to 54s, and 21% for over 55s. 

What would make people scan a QR code?

42% would scan a QR code in order to access a discount voucher,  23% out of curiosity, and 21% to find out more about the product advertised. 

On the flip side, 47% said they would be deterred from scanning a QR code because their mobile phone didn’t have this capability. In some cases, this may be less about the features on their phones, but because of the need to download an app first. 

Having to download a QR reader app would deter 27% of respondents, while 17% said the process was too time-consuming. 

Other responses included security concerns, lack of internet connection, while others simply didn’t see the point. 


Having seen other surveys on QR codes, the results are more or less as expected. Awareness and use is low, but if 19% of consumers have scanned a QR code, then this is still a significant proportion for marketers to target. 

There are clearly challenges to overcome, in terms of awareness and ease of use, while rival mobile response mechanisms, such as Blippar’s augmented reality app, offer more of a wow factor. 

The user experience can be improved as well. The MI5 example in this recent post by Tim Dunn shows that some firms are not planning campaigns well enough.

There is little point in getting people to scan your QR code if they are not likely to have wifi or a 3G signal at the location (I have seen QR codes on the Tube), if there is no compelling reason to scan, and if the landing page has not been optimised for mobile users, as in this MI5 example: 

However, there have been some very creative and valuable uses of QR, such as the use of codes on Radisson Edwardian’s menus. 

QR campaigns can produce great results too. When Tesco used posters of supermarket shelves complete with QR codes in Korea, the result was that more than 10,000 people scanned the QR codes, new customer registrations rose by 76%, and online sales were up by 130%.

There are regional factors here which aided the success of the campaign. For one, the underground has wi-fi so no connection issues. Also, many mobiles in Korea have built in QR readers, which removes one huge barrier from the whole process.