If you’re shopping for a head of lettuce in Japan, reports are that your smart phone can read the QR code from the product to figure out where the lettuce was grown. And that’s a very important thing in Japan these days. But elsewhere QR codes continue to gain popularity and in some circles it’s the cool marketing thing of 2011. Of course, we’ve mentioned QR codes here before. In review, a Quick Response code is one of those square bar codes you might see on marketing materials and printed advertising. QR scanners from an app on your smart phone will read the data to get real-time messages from the brand. These can be offers, information, tips or other web based content about the brand or the product. QR codes drive engagement by playing in that instant gratification space that consumers have come to expect from brands. According to Upasna Gautam, a Digital Marketing Consultant, QR codes are essential in today’s marketing mix. She recommends including them in all marketing materials including business cards. Interested users who have downloaded a free app will scan your QR code to interact with your product. You can make it worth their while by putting some thought into the user experience attached to the QR code. Offer free or discounted products, link to fun content, or link to feedback forms and thank you notes. Whatever you do make it easy to use because if it requires too much effort, they won’t scan it. And make it worth their while, or make them laugh, otherwise they won’t be back anytime soon.