American Marketer


Mobile bar code scanning up 700pc since January: Scanbuy study

September 29, 2010

Scanbuy EZ code linking to


A Scanbuy study found that mobile bar code scanning is up 700 percent from the beginning of the year, with more people performing scans in a single month than all of 2009 combined.

Users are scanning both 1D and 2D codes equally, showing that people are less concerned with format and more interested in getting information quickly. People are scanning a wide variety of product UPC codes, not only from the consumer electronics category.

“The report confirms what we have been hearing for some time,” said David Javitch, vice president of marketing at Scanbuy, New York. “Users are very interested in mobile bar code scanning and the growth is now moving very quickly.

“The variety of reasons to scan is extensive and that is key to reach mass adoption,” he said. “We're seeing a very even split between 2D codes and 1D codes which shows that its less about the code, and more about getting to useful and compelling content really easily when they are already engaged with a product or brand.

“That is not only a branding play, but it can actually lead directly to sales either on the mobile device or at brick and mortar.”

Luxury brands such as Brooks Brothers (see story) and Michael C. Fina (see story) have begun using mobile bar codes to engage with tech-savvy consumers.

Bar code scanning growth

The Scanbuy study also found that users are diverse and span all age groups, which shows a broad range of interests.

The potential for mobile bar code scanning is virtually endless for consumers, marketers, retailers and wireless carriers, according to Scanbuy.

The physical world becomes completely interactive and trackable in one click.

The ease of navigation and the explosive growth of smartphones is what is driving exponential adoption, per Scanbuy.

Marketers are using the Web code, which links to a URL, the most because it provides the widest flexibility.

The two most popular categories scanned are from every day products that one would find in their kitchen or bathroom, Scanbuy said.

Most surprisingly, people are actually purchasing these items through the mobile device, although the books and electronics categories show higher sales conversion rates.

The “long tail” of product types is significant, showing that people are finding ways to scan virtually anything with a UPC code.

Worldwide scanning
More than 45 countries have scanned from every continent.

ScanLife sees the majority of scans from North America, but that is mainly driven by a stronger customer and user base.

While relative population size is the primary reason for local scan volume, some states like California, Ohio and New Jersey are over-indexing.


Bar code scanning is widely relevant across age and income groups.

Half of the users are currently in the 35-54 age group, which is partly reflected by smartphone usage.

Males are over-indexing at this point, which mainly reflects an early adopter group and those that are likely to use mobile applications.

“We get a lot of questions from marketers about the adoption of this technology, so we wanted to release this data to demonstrate that the growth is there, and this is not something that is limited to a certain demographic,” Mr. Javitch said.

“Now is the time to understand how codes can address your specific business objective, and what experience is going to drive results,” he said.

“Linking to compelling content from mobile-relevant traditional media is going to get results.”

Final take

Giselle Tsirulnik, senior editor of Mobile Marketer, New York