In our May issue, out tomorrow, digital reporter JoAnn DeLuna examines the popularity of Quick Response (QR) codes.
QR codes however are only one type of 2D barcode. There are numerous options marketers can consider. Some are proprietary, but there are three open-source 2D barcodes, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Popular in: The United States, where they are nearly universal.
Advantages: Built-in error correction. If the code gets damaged, it’s still scannable, making it optimal for outside packageing.
Disadvantages: Large format—anything smaller than 1”x1” is difficult given the resolution of most. Additionally, the time to read a QR code is longest of the two other open standard formats. It takes upward of three seconds.
Popular in: Europe, where they are more prominent than QR codes; also popular in Japan.
Advantages: The code footprint size can be 3/4”x3/4” and still retain its readability.
Disadvantages: In the US, only AT&T uses it be default.
Popular in: Latin America
Advantages: Can be printed in the smallest format, down to 1/4”
Disadvantages: There is no built-in error recovery. If damaged, the code is unreadable.
Ultimately, the durability and ubiquity of the QR code makes it optimal for marketing in the United States. Currently, its necessary size might be obtrusive, though it’s not impossible to incorporate the design creatively onto a package (Hennessy recently did this). The danger of course is that if too many creative liberties are taken with the QR code, for instance lightening the colors excessively, can render the code unreadable.
Given the ubiquity of the QR code in the U.S. and the increasing power of smartphone and their cameras, it’s likely that the size advantages of Data Matrix and EZcode will ultimately be temporary.