More than 3m UK consumers used their smartphone to scan QR codes in Q2, according to new data from a comScore survey of 15,000 consumers.

This equates to 11.4% of the total smartphone audience and represents a year-on-year growth of 43%.

But the data suggests that other European nations have actually been quicker on the uptake than the UK. For example, 18.6% of German smartphone owners scanned a QR code in Q2, a YoY growth of 128%.

While in Spain 16% of users have used the technology, up a massive 218% from the same period last year.

The study claims that across the EU5 more than 17m smartphone owners have scanned a QR code.

QR codes are now common in outdoor marketing campaigns and in magazines, so it seems likely that 1 in 10 UK smartphone owners has scanned one of the codes.

However, in an online survey carried out with TolunaQuick in October 2011 we found that 19% of all UK consumers had scanned a QR code. You need to take into account that those completing an online survey are likely to be tech-savvy, but it’s still surprising that comScore’s total is so much lower a year later.

To add further fuel to the debate, a recent CBS Outdoor study found that 13% of all Europeans – including those without smartphones – had scanned an outdoor QR code.

When you narrow this down to just smartphone owners, which across the EU5 is 51.3% of the population (according to comScore), then you would expect the number who had scanned a QR code to at least double to 26%.

This makes it difficult to put an exact figure on how many smartphone owners have scanned a QR code, other than to say it is likely to be between 10% and 25%.

Use of QR codes

ComScore also looked at the most popular reasons for scanning QR codes. It found that 71.7% of scans are carried out to retrieve product information, while the second most popular reason is to access event information (31.8%).