Age Differences in the Knowledge and Usage of QR Codes


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Jonathan Mendelson presented this talk at HCI in Las Vegas. Data are from a probability-based online panel with US adults over the age of 25. We found that QR Code awareness, knowledge, and usage were highest for young adults and lowest for older adults. See slides for more details and see Jonathan's blog post about this talk at:

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Age Differences in the Knowledge and Usage of QR Codes

  1. 1. Age Differences in the Knowledge and Usage of QR Codes Jonathan Mendelson and Jen Romano Bergstrom HCI International 2013 • Las Vegas, NV • July 24, 2013 @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  2. 2. The Emerging Mobile Market 2 • Estimates indicate that 56% of American adults are now smartphone users.1 • This increases the potential for advertisers to engage consumers at their point of interest in a product, using QR codes. 1 Pew Internet & American Life Project, May 2011–May 2013 83% 91% 35% 56% May-11 Nov-11 May-12 Nov-12 May-13 Own a smartphone Own a cell phone @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  3. 3. How to Use a QR Code 3 Scan the code using a smartphone “app” The code brings up content on the smartphone in the form of a web link or other service @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  4. 4. Types of Uses 4 @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  5. 5. Technology Adoption and Age 5 • Technology acceptance model: perceived usefulness and ease of use are key factors in technology acceptance1 • Age differences in cognition2 • Some evidence for age differences in perceived ease of use3 • Research question: How does age impact QR code adoption? • Hypothesis: QR code awareness, knowledge, and usage highest among younger adults, lowest among older adults. 1 Davis 1989; Venkatesh, Davis, & Morris 2007 2 Craik & Salthouse 2000 3 Morris & Venkatesh 2000 @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  6. 6. Methodology 6 • Survey Design – Population: U.S. adults ages 25+ with influence on youth ages 12 to 21 (e.g., parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches) – Probability-based online panel – Continuously fielded between July 2011 and June 2012 – Weighted quarterly to be representative in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, education, census region, metropolitan area, and Internet access – 4,541 valid responses • 982 younger adults (ages 25–39) • 2,654 middle-age adults (ages 40–59) • 905 older adults (ages 60–94) @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  7. 7. Metric Survey Item(s) Awareness • Do you know what this is? Knowledge • Do you know how it is used? • Please describe how it is used. Experience • Have you ever used one in the past? • Where was it located (e.g., magazine, billboard, television, on a product)? • For what product, service, or organization was the link used and what information did it link you to? Methodology 7 Note: For the final quarter of data collection (April–June 2012), the two open-ended questions on experience were replaced with closed-form questions, based on respondents’ open-ended responses. • Content Coding Methodology – Open-ended items were coded using two independent raters. Complete agreement was required for all coded items. @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  8. 8. Logistic regression results: Odds ratios by group Awareness Knowledge Usage Younger adults Reference group Middle-age adults 0.63*** 0.70** 0.50*** Older adults 0.40*** 0.43*** 0.37*** High school or less Reference group Some college 1.37* 1.41** 1.46* College graduate 2.20*** 1.97*** 1.24 <$40k/year Reference group $40k-$75k/year 1.24 1.35* 1.59** $75k+/year 1.33* 1.59*** 1.73** Have smartphone 2.55*** 2.45*** 11.23*** HH Internet 1.66*** 1.61** 1.52 Female 0.79* 0.71*** 0.58*** Pseudo r^2: 0.1214 0.1216 0.2488 QR Code Adoption by Age 8 * = p<.05; ** = p<.01; *** = p<.001 Q68a. “Do you know what this is?” Q68b. “Do you know how it is used?” Q68d. “Have you ever used one in the past?” • Awareness, knowledge, and usage were highest for younger adults and lowest for older adults. • Controlling for demographics and smartphone ownership, older adults were 37% as likely as younger adults to have used a QR code. 0 20 40 60 80 Awareness Knowledge Usage %ofRespondents Younger adults Middle-age adults Older adults @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  9. 9. QR Code Adoption Over Time 9 Q68a. “Do you know what this is?” Q68b. “Do you know how it is used?” Q68d. “Have you ever used one in the past?” 0 20 40 60 80 2011 Q3 2011 Q4 2012 Q1 2012 Q2 %ofRespondents Awareness 2011 Q3 2011 Q4 2012 Q1 2012 Q2 Knowledge 2011 Q3 2011 Q4 2012 Q1 2012 Q2 Usage Younger adults Middle-age adults Older adults • Across all four quarters, awareness, knowledge, and usage were lowest among older adults and highest among younger adults. • While usage only increased by 6%–7% for each group, knowledge and awareness increased the most among middle-age adults. @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  10. 10. QR Code Knowledge: Able to Describe 10 Q68c. “Please describe how it is used.” • Given that these measures were self-reported, it is possible that some respondents incorrectly reported knowledge of how to use QR codes. • In fact, many older respondents who reported knowledge were not able to explain how to use QR codes or distinguish them from barcodes. 77 76 64 17 20 23 6 4 12 0 20 40 60 80 100 Younger adults Middle-age adults Older adults %ofRespondents Clearly/probably understands Possibly understands No indication of understanding @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  11. 11. Mobile Phone Ownership 11 Phone1. “Do you have a cell phone, smartphone (e.g., an iPhone, BlackBerry, or Droid), or other mobile device that is also a phone?” Phone2. “Is your mobile phone a smartphone (e.g., an iPhone, BlackBerry, Droid, Windows Phone, or other phone with the ability to run third-party software applications or ‘apps’)?” • Part of the decreased adoption of QR codes among older adults could be due to their lower levels of smartphone ownership. 58 38 17 14 27 36 0 20 40 60 80 100 Younger adults Middle-age adults Older adults %ofRespondents Non-smartphone Smartphone 72 66 54 @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  12. 12. QR Code Users: Locations and Purposes of Use 12 Note: Data are not displayed for older adults due to insufficient sample size (n=20). Q68g. “Have you ever used one that was at any of the following locations?” Q68h. “Have you ever used one for any of the following purposes?” • Overall trends in the locations and purposes of QR code usage were relatively similar among younger and middle-age adults. 70% 64% 54% 42% 29% 37% 21% 8% 12% 77% 70% 59% 53% 36% 22% 19% 6% 9% On a product In a store Advertisement Magazine; newspaper Internet; email Billboard; poster; sign Letter; postcard in mail TV Other Locations of Use 74% 50% 48% 39% 29% 24% 18% 5% 70% 54% 62% 30% 22% 24% 7% 4% More info on a product, service, or organization Visit a website Get a coupon or deal Download a mobile application or 'app' Access multimedia Enter a sweepstakes or contest Contact information Other Purposes of Use Younger adults (n = 75) Middle-age adults (n = 107) @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  13. 13. Summary of Key Findings 13 • Self-reported awareness, knowledge, and usage were much lower among older adults than among younger and middle-age adults – Much of this appears to be due to lower rates of smartphone usage • Furthermore, self-reported knowledge and usage metrics may underestimate the actual differences by age group – Fewer older adults who reported knowing how to use QR codes were able to correctly describe how to use them – Some confusion with barcodes and incorrect descriptions • Younger and middle-age QR code users reported similar locations of usage and purposes for using them, for the most part @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  14. 14. Future Directions 14 • Examine QR code adoption using Technology Acceptance Model framework: perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use – Older adults may view smartphones and/or QR codes as less useful and/or harder to use • Examine QR code and smartphone adoption patterns among broader populations – US adults ages 18+ – Adults in other countries @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  15. 15. Questions? Email us! @forsmarshgroup @romanocog
  16. 16. References 16 • Craik, F.I.M., Salthouse, T.A.: The handbook of aging and cognition (2nd ed.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ (2000) • Davis, F.D.: Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly, 319–340 (1989) • Dennis, J.M.: Summary of KnowledgePanel® Design (2010), Description.pdf • Kato, H., Tan, K.T.: 2d barcodes for mobile phones. In: 2nd International Conference on Mobile Technology, Applications and Systems, 1a–4. IEEE (2005) • Mendelson, J., Lackey, M., Turner, S.: What is that thing? Knowledge and usage of QR codes. In New Frontiers: Smart Data Collection – Innovations in the Use of Smartphones. Paper presented at the 67th Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Orlando, FL. (2012) • Morris, M.G., Venkatesh, V.: Age differences in technology adoption decisions: Implications for a changing work force. Personnel Psychology 53(2), 375–403 (2000) • The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project: Device Ownership Trend Data, • Venkatesh, V., Davis, F.D., Morris, M.G.: Dead or alive? The development, trajectory, and future of technology adoption research. Journal of the Association for Information Systems 8(4), 267–286 (2007) @forsmarshgroup @romanocog