If anyone is using QR codes, it’s Millennials, right? If anyone understands the value of QR codes, it’s marketers. So why doesn’t this Millennial marketer use them?

This discovery came out of a conversation I had last weekend in a Verizon Wireless store. I was sitting there with my daughter, waiting for her first iPhone to be activated, and I noticed a QR code on one of the in-store posters. I asked the salesperson whether he had noticed anyone scanning it. He said maybe a few people, but not too many.

I figured him to be in his mid- to late 20s, so I was curious. “How about you?” I asked. “Do you scan QR codes?”

He smiled and shook his head. “No, I don’t.”

I asked why. He said that he had a degree in marketing, so he was all too aware of the many ways that companies use to market to him. He assumes anything on a package, a poster, or piece of marketing collateral is there to sell him something. He pointed to embedded links in emails and websites. “They are there to take you to a page where they are going to sell you something,” he said. “That’s the whole reason they are there. As far as I'm concerned, QR codes do the same thing. I don’t want to be sold to.”

For him, QR codes are red flags of something to avoid. “Sales push ahead! Stay away!”

Is he the exception? Or is that what most consumers hear when they see a QR code? As just another way marketers are trying to get into their wallets? Or do they see QR codes as a valuable way to gain information? For me, it’s the latter. I use QR codes enough to know that, on occasion, I end up somewhere interesting that is of value to me. I use them as quick links to surveys, ways to access recipes for foods I like, and sometimes for entertainment (Angry Orchard’s talking trees come to mind). But not everyone thinks this way.

Even as consumers become more familiar with how QR codes work, your salespeople need to emphasize to clients the need to add text around QR codes to emphasize why their customers should scan them. “Scan here to download our app” or “Scan to see video on product use.” Make the value clear to them. Otherwise, as my Verizon Wireless sales guy so clearly pointed out, viewers may just see your clients’ “added value” using QR codes as another way to sell to them...and therefore those efforts fall flat.