Novelist Angela Carter once described nostalgia as “the vice for the aged.” Today, however, nostalgia has gone mainstream and it seems that the entire nation, young and old, is looking to the recent past for comfort, distraction, and inspiration. Given the litany of bad news weighing on all of us right now, it’s no wonder why.
Today, nostalgia for the 1990s and 2000s is the inspiration behind fashion trends, pop culture, and, yes, Super Bowl advertisements. For the biggest football game of the year, Mike Myers donned his Dr. Evil costume for GM, car company Chevy recreated the iconic opening sequence of The Sopranos, and Michelob Ultra delighted The Big Lebowski fans with an ode to the iconic bowling scene starring Steve Buscemi. My vote for the winning advertisement, however, had to be the Coinbase spot that cleverly tapped into the current nostalgic zeitgeist but featured no celebrities and cost almost nothing to produce.
The Coinbase spot, which has garnered rave reviews by Adweek and other industry publications, channels the long-forgotten DVD screensaver aesthetic and features a color-changing QR code that bounces around the screen. The advertisement, simple but effective, beckoned a staggering 20 million consumers to pull out their phones within a minute of the advertisement, scan the QR code, and visit the Coinbase site where they were offered free cryptocurrency.
In the wake of Coinbase’s Super Bowl success, marketers are waking up to the fact that the QR code, itself a throwback technology first popularized during the early aughts, can do a lot more than replace menus at restaurants.
In fact, the QR Code has become a powerful portal between the real world and digital spheres and is fast becoming a CMO’s secret weapon. Think of it as the premier digital entry point for your business: easy for consumers to access and inexpensive for you to distribute widely.
As the QR code is used in increasingly creative cases, it’s important to remember that the customer’s journey begins—not ends—when they scan the code. If your QR code brings customers to an onboarding page where they have to enter data, be mindful of how tedious typing on a small screen can be. To solve this problem, a growing number of companies are leveraging phone-centric identity to auto-fill forms, cutting down on the keystrokes necessary to fill out forms and reducing abandonment rates.
Here are three clever ways marketers can leverage QR codes to engage customers and boost revenue:
TURN ONE-TIME BUYERS INTO SUBSCRIBERS
Selling razors and looking to upsell? Place a QR code on the product’s packaging that links to a webpage offering customers a monthly subscription with a custom discount. If you’re coupling this with verified pre-filling solutions like Prove’s Pre-Fill, the consumer won’t even have to enter their mailing address. The consumer can simply consent and key in one challenge question and the rest of their information will be auto-populated with verified data.
OFFER COMPETITVE FINANCING ON THE GO
Let’s say you are working with Best Buy to sell fridges and want to offer financing to qualified buyers. Simply place a QR code sticker linking to a credit application on the display fridge. Then, in just a few clicks, the approved customer will have their own QR code on their phone that they can bring to the checkout to pay for their item, just as they would a credit card.
TURN CASUAL SHOPPERS INTO BRAND AMBASSADORS
If you’ve shopped at Ralph Lauren lately, you may have noticed a QR code printed on a small tag sewn into your item. The QR code not only proves that your purchase is authentic, but it also brings you to a webpage that tells you more about the product and shows you other items you may like. It’s a really fun way to deepen the relationship between the consumer and the iconic brand. With phone-centric identity, consumers can spend more time exploring your brand and less time filling out forms.
If you’re anything like me, the obsession with the 1990s and 2000s can feel a bit surreal. For starters, it wasn’t even that long ago. That being said, the influence of the early aughts on today’s consumer is undeniable. By embracing nostalgia while also upgrading QR Codes with the latest phone-centric identity, you can easily cut through the noise, grab the consumer’s attention, and beat out the competition.
Brad H. Rosenfeld is the Chief Marketing Officer at Prove.