The Effects of Additional Information on the Willingness to Scan a QR Code and the Role of QR Code Customer

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The Effects of Additional Information on the Willingness to Scan a QR Code and the Role of QR Code Customer

Satisfaction and Privacy Concerns

Author: Claire Stals Student number: 12781851

Master’s Thesis

Graduate School of Communication Master’s programme Communication Science

Persuasive Communication

Supervisor: Dr. H.A.M. (Hilde) Voorveld

February 4, 2022 Word count: 7495

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Abstract

A participant’s willingness to scan the QR code is supposed to be highly correlated with the additional information that he or she acquires. This paper provides both theoretical and empirical evidence regarding QR codes in the restaurant industry. The aim of this research is to study the effect of additional information (presence vs. absence) alongside a QR code on the willingness to scan the QR code, whether this is mediated by QR code customers’ satisfaction, and moderated by their level of privacy concern (low vs. high). A total of 174 participants took part in the online experiment. The results showed that there was no difference in willingness to scan the QR code when additional information was present versus when it was absent. Also, there was no

difference for the participants with a high level of privacy concern compared to the low level of privacy concern. In addition, there was no mediation effect of QR code customer satisfaction as well. Therefore, all hypotheses were rejected. Given the results, implications are drawn for further research to figure out the practical insights of QR codes in the restaurant industry.

Keywords: additional information, level of privacy concern, QR code, willingness to scan the QR code, QR code customer satisfaction, experience with the use of QR codes, perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use

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The Effects of Additional Information on the Willingness to Scan a QR Code and the Role of QR Code Customer Satisfaction and Privacy Concerns

Currently, the emergence of digital media technologies is providing numerous opportunities for businesses to improve their touchpoints for consumers. One of the digital media-related technological developments that arose in the past few years, is the opportunity to use ‘Quick Response’ (QR) codes as a tool. A QR code is a bi-dimensional, machine-readable optical label (Okazaki et al., 2019). Or in other words, a scannable barcode that forms a quick and easy medium to take consumers from the physical to the virtual world in just a split second, by scanning it with a mobile device’s camera. An example is the restaurant industry which uses QR codes to display the menu, allowing consumers to order themselves or even pay via scanning (Guszkowski, 2020). Today, the usage of QR codes gained major commercial popularity, due to mobile technology and the rising number of QR code users (Jones, 2012). As written by Jones (2012), people become more and more reliant on technology, and technologies such as QR codes make it easier to connect businesses and consumers. For marketers, it is important to use a QR code as effectively as possible, when trying to influence the consumers’ attitudes toward mobile phone based QR code advertising and behavioral intentions. Therefore, this research focuses on QR codes in the restaurant industry.

The success of providing QR codes in the restaurant industry relies on certain characteristics that make them potentially relevant for persuasive purposes (Krahmer et al., 2004). An example of one of these characteristics that seem to influence the success of providing a QR code is information seeking (Tsang et al., 2004). In fact, information that is provided

alongside the QR code is considered as the strongest predictor of behavioral intention (Jung et al., 2012), and the more information provided the more persuasive it is (Chen et al., 2002; Ducoffe, 1995; Luo, 2002). However, no specific instructions on what information should be provided

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alongside the QR code are mentioned in the literature. Instead, research mainly focuses on the information that is provided after scanning the QR code (Jung et al., 2012; Ertekin & Pelton, 2014; Cata et al., 2013), such as the menu. Beside the fact that there is no clear instruction on what information to provide alongside a QR code, there is also a lack of academic research on the consumers’ motivations to scan the QR code (Jung et al., 2012; Okazaki et al., 2019). This is important since more insight into the consumers’ motivations to scan the QR code could help develop an effective, persuasive message for marketers. Therefore, the goal of this study is to discover the effect of providing additional information alongside the QR code on the consumers’

willingness to scan a QR code.

It is also interesting to research the underlying mechanisms that influence consumers’

willingness to scan a QR code because this might clarify the outcomes. An example of this is customer satisfaction. “Essentially, one of the most important user outcomes of experience is called customer satisfaction and acquiring satisfaction of the customer is one of the important goals of marketers” (Hossain et al., 2018, p. 4). In other words, one of the main goals of

marketers is to achieve customer satisfaction as an outcome of using a QR code. Furthermore, it is said that when relevant information is provided, consumers tend to be more satisfied (Sicilia &

Ruiz, 2010). And when customers are satisfied with self-service technology, this would have a positive effect on behavioral intentions, such as scanning a QR code in a restaurant (Yen &

Gwinner, 2003). It is also important to mention that customer satisfaction creates loyalty, which means that they possibly return to the restaurant (Anderson & Srinivasan, 2003). Considering the effectiveness of information on the behavioral intention (Jung et al., 2012; Ertekin & Pelton, 2014; Cata et al., 2013) and the positive influence of QR code customer satisfaction on the willingness to scan the QR code, this leads to the following sub-question:

“To what extent does the presence of additional information alongside a QR code lead to

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a higher willingness to scan the QR code, and is this mediated by customers’

satisfaction of the QR code?”

Something else that is worth mentioning is that for consumers to be able to scan the QR codes, a smartphone with an active internet connection is required (Shin et al., 2012). Because of the considerable growth of mobile phone users (Statista, 2021), and their high levels of

acceptance because of the wide diffusion of smartphones (Shin et al., 2012), it is evident that the use of QR codes is seen as an engaging tool between businesses and consumers. However, these rapid mobile technological advances make it possible for marketers and advertisers to collect data more easily which can be a cause of consumers’ concerns regarding their privacy (Okazaki et al., 2019). “Information privacy involves an individual’s control over the acquisition, disclosure, and use of personal information” (Kang, 1998, as cited in Okazaki et al., 2019, p. 95). In the case of scanning a QR code at a restaurant, the guests half of the time do not know what is done with their data, which can cause an unintended violation of their privacy (Wigan & Clarke, 2013).

These privacy concerns tend to negatively influence consumers’ willingness to participate in online profiling (Okazaki et al., 2019), such as scanning a QR code in the restaurant industry. But when the additional information alongside the QR code is transparent and describes the purpose of the QR code, those with a higher level of privacy concern tend to be more willing to scan the QR code (Awad & Krisnan, 2006). This leads to the following sub-question:

“To what extent does the presence of additional information alongside a QR code lead to a higher willingness to scan the QR code, and is this different for people with different levels of privacy concerns?”

To conclude, this study will help marketers by effectively implementing QR codes in the restaurant industry. Next to the beforementioned positive sides of using QR codes, it is important to note that QR codes are still relatively primitive and have an obvious weakness when it comes

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to the reality of limited interaction with the consumer (Shin et al., 2012). The interaction is

limited with the consumers because QR codes are used as a quick and easy tool to take them from the physical to the virtual world (Okazaki et al., 2019). This weakness, however, could be used as a strength if the implementation is right and based on research.

Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework will first focus on defining and conceptualizing additional information, after which the impact of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code is described. Thereafter, the concept QR code customer satisfaction is defined, its mediating role is explained and at last, the concept privacy concerns is described, and its moderating role is explained.

Conceptualizing Additional Information

There are two ways to look at additional information and QR codes. First, QR codes could serve as a tool to allow customers to get additional information in the form of a website or menu. In this wise, QR codes reward by providing additional information (Hossain et al., 2018).

So, apart from the information that is already available to the consumers, extra information can be required simply by scanning the QR code (Kieseberg et al., 2010). However, this is not the purpose of additional information in this current study. The second way to look at additional information is as follows; additional information alongside the QR code can be used to provide an explanation on how to scan the QR code. Here, additional information can be defined as extra included informative content (Sousa, 2021).

A reason for providing additional information alongside the QR is that attractive packaging of information impacts the effectiveness of persuasion (Krahmer et al., 2004). So, when the information is appealing to the consumers it has a more persuasive effect. Besides, when the information is topic-relevant, this positively influences consumers’ ability to process

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the information (Higgins et al., 1982), and increases the potential of changing the consumers’

attitude (e.g., the willingness to scan the QR code) as well (Nowak et al., 1999, as cited in Schumann & Thorson, 1999). Thus, both the attractiveness of the packaging of information and the content relevant to the topic are important to consider when developing additional

information alongside a QR code.

Something else that is important to consider, are the consumers’ motivations for using a QR code in the first place. Knowing these motivations makes it easier to determine the content of the additional information. Two motivations are explained by Davis based on the Technological Acceptance Model (TAM) (1989, as cited in Jung et al., 2012). First, the perceived usefulness.

This is seen as the benefit of using the QR code, such as finding relevant information (i.e., displaying the menu). The perceived usefulness seems to be a strong predictor of consumers’

behavioral intentions (Jung et al., 2012). The second motivation described is the perceived ease of use. Perceived ease of use is defined as “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free of effort” (Ertekin & Pelton, 2014, p. 49). This is implemented in this research by adding instructions on how to scan the QR code in the condition in which

additional information is present. To conclude, consumers tend to be more motivated when the additional information alongside the QR code focuses on perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use.

The Effects of Additional Information on the Willingness to Scan the QR Code In this study, the effect of the presence vs. absence of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code is measured. Past studies demonstrate that willingness is highly correlated with actual behavior (Hill et al., 1977), especially when it concerns new technologies such as QR codes (Bauer et al., 2005). So, when measuring how likely someone is to scan the QR code, their willingness is measured. Providing information is significantly related to having a

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positive influence on consumers’ attitudes toward mobile advertising and willingness to scan a QR code (Tsang et al., 2004; Nowak et al., 1999, as cited in Schumann & Thorson, 1999).

Keeping this in mind, this research uses the presence of additional information alongside the QR code to try and persuade people to scan the QR code by positively influencing their willingness.

As described earlier, there are two motivations for consumers to scan a QR code;

perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness (Jung et al., 2012). In this research, those motivations are integrated into the additional information alongside the QR code, to try to influence consumers’ willingness positively (Jung et al., 2012). Another theory related to this describes the fact that consumer acceptance towards mobile marketing is based on context relevance, and the value of the context (Asare, I.T. & Asare, D., 2015). This means that

consumers are more likely to scan QR codes when the “incentive to scan the code is specifically targeted and made attractive to their particular needs and desires” (Okazaki et al., 2019, p. 198).

This suggests that when consumers are provided with a QR code in the context of a restaurant, the focus needs to be on helping consumers by fulfilling their needs and desires at that specific moment (i.e., explaining how to scan the QR code to see the menu). These findings lead to the following hypothesis:

H1: The presence of additional information has a positive influence on the willingness to scan the QR code compared to the absence of additional information.

The Mediating Role of QR code Customer Satisfaction

In addition to the effect of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code, the possible influence of the mediator customer satisfaction of QR codes is also interesting to consider in this research. Generally, brands and/or companies want to build a relationship with their customers which is based on being beneficial or valuable to them (Webster, 2000). What drives this relationship is customer satisfaction, which is defined by Oliver (1997) as “a

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pleasurable level of consumption-related fulfillment” (as cited in Xu et al., 2006, p. 84).

Subsequently, customer satisfaction starts when a customer feels fulfilled about a product or service (Oliver, 1997, as cited in Xu et al., 2006). Since customer satisfaction with the QR code is researched as a mediator in this research, this study first looks at the effect of additional

information on QR code customer satisfaction. It is expected that the presence of additional information positively influences customers’ satisfaction with the QR code. Second, this study looks at what influence customer satisfaction with the QR code has on the willingness to scan the QR code. Here, it is expected that QR code customer satisfaction positively influences customers’

willingness to scan the QR code.

First, reasons for why it is expected that the presence of additional information positively influences customers’ satisfaction with the QR code are discussed. For better customer

satisfaction, Hossain et al. (2018) mention three elements: usefulness, usability, and likability. As described before, the presence of additional information is effective when the focus lies on the two motivations that consumers have when they are willing to scan a QR code; perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness (Davis, 1989, as cited in Jung et al., 2012). These two motivations are rather similar to two of the three elements mentioned by Hossain et al. (2018); usefulness and usability. This would indicate that when the additional information alongside the QR codes focuses on its’ usefulness and usability, consumers tend to be more satisfied with the QR code.

So, not only is it expected that usefulness and usability increase the consumers’ willingness to scan the QR code but it is also expected that it will positively influence the consumers’

satisfaction with the QR code. However, there is not a lot of research on the effect of additional information on customer satisfaction in the specific context of using QR codes in the restaurant industry, so this forms a gap in scientific knowledge.

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Secondly, this study focuses on the influence of QR code customer satisfaction on the willingness to scan the QR code. Based on the literature, QR code customer satisfaction seems to have a positive influence on customers’ willingness to scan the QR code (Oliver, 2010; Hossain et al., 2018). When customers are satisfied with the product or service, they are likely to show positive behavioral intentions (Hossain et al., 2018), such as a higher willingness to scan the QR code in a restaurant. Additionally, customer satisfaction has been regarded as a determinant of long-term customer behavior (Xu et al., 2006). So, by providing a good service, positive experiences of customer satisfaction are achieved which possibly persuade the consumers’

behavior in a way that they are more likely to scan the QR code (Hossain et al., 2018). Based on these previous findings in the literature, the following mediation hypothesis is formulated:

H2: The positive effect of the presence of additional information on consumers’

willingness to scan the QR code is explained by QR code customer satisfaction.

The Moderating Role of Privacy Concerns

Beside the just-explained mediation effect of customer satisfaction with the QR code, there is also moderator that could possibly influence the relationship between additional information and the willingness to scan the QR code which is the customers’ privacy concern.

Privacy concern is defined as “the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others"

(Malhotra et al., 2004, p. 337). Privacy concerns in the context of scanning a QR code in a restaurant means that consumers are afraid that their data is used involuntarily, after scanning the QR code (Okazaki et al., 2019). Since personal information online is easily copied, transmitted, and integrated, this could lead to marketers constructing descriptions of individuals, and

therefore, online data lead to serious threats to an individual's privacy (Malhotra et al., 2004;

Albuquerque et al., 2020). Moreover, consumers perceive mobile marketing based on their online

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personal information as a privacy invasion (Windham & Orton, 2001). Since privacy as a topic is most often researched in the context of how to protect or preserve it (Margulis, 2003), it is

important to gain some insights into whether privacy concerns affect consumer responses concerning persuasive messages, such as persuading people to scan a QR code in a restaurant.

Therefore, this study does not focus on the level of involvement, but rather on the consumers’

level of privacy concern itself.

One theory that explains the fact that consumers with more privacy concerns have a lower willingness to participate in online profiling – which can be facilitated by scanning a QR code - is called the Utility Maximization Theory. According to the theory, consumers tend to think about the negative consequences when providing their data (Okazaki et al., 2019). In addition to this, it is suggested that those with a higher level of privacy concern place more value on information transparency features (Awad & Krisnan, 2006). These are “features that give consumers access to the information a firm has collected about them, and to how that information is going to be used”

(Awad & Krisnan, 2006, p. 14). This means that consumers with a high level of privacy concern prefer transparent information, which means that consumers would like to know what will happen with their data after scanning the QR. Furthermore, literature suggests that these privacy concerns negatively impact the effect of the presence of additional information on consumers' willingness to scan the QR code, compared to a low level of privacy concern (Cata et al., 2013).

Therefore, the following moderator hypothesis is formulated. A visualization of the hypotheses can be found in Figure 1.

H3: The positive influence of the presence of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code, is stronger for people with a high level of privacy concern than for people with a low level of privacy concern.

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Figure 1

Conceptual model

Methods Participants and Design

An online experiment was conducted to study the effects of exposure to additional information on the willingness to scan a QR code and the role of QR code customer satisfaction and privacy concerns in the restaurant industry. The participants were randomly assigned to one of the two conditions in a 2 (additional information: presence vs. absence) by 2 (level of privacy concern: low vs. high) between-subjects factorial design with willingness to scan the QR code and QR code customer satisfaction as the dependent variables. In this experiment, additional information is manipulated, and privacy concern is a measured factor. This study has been approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of Amsterdam and data were collected from the 8th until the 16th of December 2021.

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In total, 180 people participated in this study. From those, one participant did not give consent at the beginning of the questionnaire and four did not give consent at the end of the questionnaire. Additionally, one participant did not finish the questionnaire. Therefore, those were not included in the final data. So, in the end 174 anonymous participants completed the questionnaire and were included in the main analysis. Participants ranged in age from 17 to 72 years old, with a mean age of 30.17 years (SD = 13.17). The sample was predominantly female (60.9% women, 37.9% men). 16.7% Had a high school degree or equivalent, 43.1% a bachelor’s degree, 28.7% a master’s degree, and 11.5% other or no degrees. Furthermore, the participants stated that their current country of residence is mainly The Netherlands, the United States of America, or Belgium. Additionally, most of the participants have used a QR code in the

restaurant industry at least once, except for 9.2% who never used it. More information about the demographics of the participants can be found in Table 1.

Table 1

Demographic characteristics

n %

Gender

Male 66 37.9

Female 106 60.9

Prefer not to say 2 1.1

Age (range) 17-72 100

Country of reside

Albania 1 0.6

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Andorra 1 0.6

Belgium 4 2.3

Canada 1 0.6

France 2 1.1

Germany 2 1.1

India 1 0.6

Indonesia 1 0.6

Netherlands 153 87.9

Russian Federation 1 0.6

United States of America 7 4.0

Level of education

Less than high school diploma 2 1.1

High school degree or equivalent 29 16.7

Some college, no degree 10 5.7

Bachelor's degree 75 43.1

Master's degree 50 28.7

Professional degree 5 2.9

Doctorate 2 1.1

Prefer not to say 1 0.6

Experience with the use of QR codes

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Never 16 9.2

Once 13 7.5

2 to 5 times 45 25.9

6 to 10 times 36 20.7

11 to 20 times 27 15.5

More than 20 times 37 21.3

Note. N = 174 (n = 90 for the condition with additional information present, n = 84 for the condition without additional information)

Stimulus material

In this research, the independent variable additional information was manipulated by the presence of additional information versus the absence of additional information in order to measure the effect on the willingness to scan the QR code and QR code customer satisfaction (see Appendix A, Figures 3 & 4). Furthermore, since the perceived benefit/usefulness of the QR code is a major factor influencing consumers’ attitude (Jung et al., 2012), in the stimuli with additional information present, information was added about the purpose of the QR code and instructions to scan it. For consumers to get to know the benefit/usefulness of the QR code, the text mentioned the purpose to ‘order via the QR code’ and to ‘see the menu’. Instructions on how to scan the QR code were added to make it as accessible for the consumers as possible. Prior to the final data capturing, a pretest was done (N = 23) to check whether the manipulation of the independent variable had the intended effect.

The pretest served to check whether the two manipulated conditions (presence vs. absence of additional information) worked as intended, which means that the respondents saw that the

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image presented contained additional (informative) information on how to scan the QR code in the presence condition, but not in the absence condition. Data for the pretest was gathered

through a short questionnaire in Qualtrics, which contained only questions about the respondents’

demographics, the manipulation check question, and final questions about the perceived usefulness and ease of use. The manipulation check question “The image presented contained additional (informative) information on how to scan the QR code” could be answered with either a “yes” or “no”. The answer option “yes” was desired in the condition with additional

information present. In addition, there was a possibility to leave a comment at the end of the questionnaire. With these data, the main questionnaire of this study could be improved. A Chi Square test was done in SPSS to check whether the manipulation check had the intended effect.

The results were significant, χ2 (1, N = 22) = 14.73, p < .001. Therefore, the manipulation was successfully implemented and there was no need to change it.

Procedure

Participants were recruited through the researchers’ social media network (i.e.,

WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) using both a convenience and snowballing sampling technique. Through social media, the participants received a link that directed them to the online questionnaire in Qualtrics. First of all, the participants had to give their consent by ticking a box after reading the instructions. After reading the instructions and giving consent, participants who were 16 years or older were directed to answer some questions regarding their experience of ordering food and/or drinks in a restaurant via a QR code in the past six months. After this, the participants were asked to fill in a couple of questions about their demographics. Participants who did not give consent and/or were under the age of 17 were directed to the end of the questionnaire. After filling in their demographics, the participants were asked to fill in the six items measuring their level of privacy concern (Malhotra et al., 2004). Thereafter, the participants

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were exposed to one of the two conditions (presence vs. absence of additional information) for 20 seconds, followed by three items measuring their QR code customer satisfaction (Hossain et al., 2018). Subsequently, the participants were asked to answer a one-item scale measuring their willingness to scan the QR code (Bamoriya, 2014) followed by a manipulation check question.

Lastly, the participants received a debriefing explaining the actual purpose of the study. The full questionnaire can be seen in Appendix A.

Measurements

Willingness to Scan the QR Code

The dependent variable in this research is the willingness to scan the QR code. This was measured based on a one-item scale developed by Bamoriya (2014) focusing on the intention to scan a QR code. The question measuring the willingness to scan the QR code was formulated as follows: “I am willing to scan the QR code”. The question is rated along a seven-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Higher scores indicate a higher willingness to scan the QR code. The willingness to scan the QR code scored an overall mean of M = 5.37 (SD = 1.59).

QR Code Customer Satisfaction

The mediator variable in this research is customer satisfaction with the use of the QR code. Based on a three-item scale by Sousa (2021), the overall score of QR code customer satisfaction is measured. A seven-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) was used to collect the data. The scale consists of the following statements after some minor adjustments in the text: (1) “I am satisfied with the design that contains the QR code”, (2) “I am excited with the design that has the QR code”, and (3) “The presence of the QR code on the table is an asset comparing to its absence” (Sousa, 2021, p. 21). The items displayed a reasonable, but ok reliability score (Cronbach’s α = .68). Higher scores indicate higher QR code

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customer satisfaction. The overall QR code customer satisfaction scored a mean of M = 4.39 (SD

= 1.13).

Level of Privacy Concern

The moderator variable in this research is privacy concerns. Based on a six-item Global Information Privacy Concern scale with a seven-point Likert answering scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), the overall privacy concern score was measured. Items such as “All things considered, the Internet would cause serious privacy problems” and “To me, it is the most important thing to keep my privacy intact from online companies” were used (Malhotra et al., 2004, p. 352). See Appendix A for all items. After reverse coding item 4 (see Appendix A), the items displayed a good reliability score (Cronbach’ α = .79). Additionally, the level of privacy concern was divided into two groups based on a median split (Mdn = 4.50). The participants with an average score above 4.50 were assigned to the group with a high level of privacy concern, which indicates a higher overall privacy concern (n = 93). The participants with an average score below 4.50 were assigned to the group with a low level of privacy concern, which indicates a lower overall privacy concern (n = 81).

Results Randomization Check

To test whether the demographic variable age was equally distributed across the conditions of presence of additional information and absence of additional information, an Independent Samples T-test was carried out using SPSS. Participants who saw the condition with additional information did not significantly differ in age (M = 29.72, SD = 13.21) compared to participants who saw the condition without additional information (M = 30.65, SD = 13.20), t (172) = -.47, p = .624, d = 0.05, 95% CI [-4.89, 3.02]. To check for an equal division between the conditions for the demographic variables gender, country of residence, and level of education, a

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Chi-square test was conducted in SPSS. The results showed that gender was equally divided across the conditions χ2 (2) = 0.20, p = .334, as well as the variable country of residence χ2 (10)

= 8.74, p = .557, and for the variable level of education χ2 (7) = 2.08, p = .955. To summarize, all demographic variables were equally divided across the conditions and therefore these variables were not added as covariates to the analysis.

Covariates

A covariate check was done to see whether the participants' experience with the use of QR codes, perceived usefulness, and perceived ease of use of QR codes influenced their

willingness to scan the QR code. To test the results, correlation analyses were done in SPSS. First of all, the results revealed a significant moderate positive relationship between the experience with the use of QR codes and willingness to scan the QR code, r = .37, p < .001. Second, the results revealed a significant strong positive relationship between the perceived usefulness and willingness to scan the QR code, r = .73, p < .001. Third, the results revealed a significant strong positive relationship between the perceived ease of use and willingness to scan the QR code as well, r = .67, p < .001. Thus, these three variables were included as control variables in all main analyses.

Manipulation Check

A second manipulation check was embedded in the questionnaire to check whether the two manipulated conditions (presence vs. absence of additional information) worked as intended like in the pretest. To test this, a Chi-square test was done in SPSS. The participants had to answer “yes” or “no” to the question “the image presented contained additional (informative) information on how to scan the QR code.” The answer option “yes” was desired in the condition with additional information present. In total, 88.9% answered correct in the presence condition (n

= 90) and 85.7% in the absence condition (n = 84). However, the results were marginally

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significant, χ2 (6, N = 174) = 11.20, p = .083. This means that even after pretesting, the

manipulation was not completely successfully implemented and the participants did not perceive, comprehend, and/or react as expected to the manipulation within the independent variable

presence vs. absence of additional information. Therefore, the conclusions of this research related to the relationship between the independent variable and dependent variables must be interpreted with caution.

Effects of Additional Information on Willingness to Scan QR Codes

In order to test the first hypothesis, which indicates that the presence of additional

information positively influences the willingness to scan the QR code compared to the absence of additional information, a Two-Way Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was done in SPSS.

Additional information (presence vs. absence) was used as the independent variable, willingness to scan the QR code as the dependent variable, and level of privacy concern (low vs. high) as the moderator. The results of the test showed a non-significant main effect of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code, F (1, 167) = 1.55, p = .215, eta-squared = .00. This means that additional information does not explain the variance in willingness to scan the QR code. However, participants who were exposed to additional information (n = 90) scored a little bit higher on willingness to scan the QR code (M = 5.49, SD = 1.48) than participants who were not exposed to additional information (n = 84, M = 5.25, SD = 1.71). To conclude, there is no significant difference between the presence of additional information and the absence of

additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code, and therefore, the first hypothesis is rejected. In addition, the results of the test showed a marginally significant main effect of level of privacy concern on the willingness to scan the QR code, F (1, 167) = 3.68, p = .057, eta-

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squared = .01. This means that the participants’ level of privacy concern might explain a bit of the variance in their willingness to scan the QR code1.

The Moderating Role of the Level of Privacy Concern

To test the third hypothesis which indicates that the effect of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code is stronger for people with a high level of privacy concern than for people with a low level of privacy concern, the results of the same Two-Way Analysis of Covariance were analyzed. The analysis revealed a non-significant interaction effect between additional information and the level of privacy concern, F (1, 167) = 0.61, p = .434, eta-squared = .00. However, the results showed that participants who were assigned to the low level of privacy concern (n = 81) scored a little bit higher on willingness to scan the QR code (M = 5.70, SD = 1.29) than participants who were not exposed to additional information (n = 93, M = 5.09, SD = 1.77). To summarize, the effect of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code is not different for participants with different levels of privacy concern (low vs. high). Therefore, the third hypothesis is rejected.

Mediation effect of QR Code Customer Satisfaction

Regarding the second hypothesis, “The positive effect of the presence of additional information on consumers’ willingness to scan the QR code is explained by QR code customer satisfaction”, a PROCESS macro by Hayes (2018) using model 4 is done to test the results. For this analysis, additional information (presence vs. absence) was used as the independent variable, QR code customer satisfaction as the mediator variable, and willingness to scan the QR code as the dependent variable. Since the Two-Way Analysis of Covariates showed a non-significant

1 In addition to the ANCOVA, an ANOVA was run (see Appendix B). Apart from the fact that in the ANOVA the effect of privacy concerns on the willingness to scan the QR code was significant, the rest of the ANOVA results were the same as in the ANCOVA. Therefore, no further analyses needed to be done with this.

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interaction effect, a simple mediation was performed. The total effects of the model were significant, F (4, 169) = 10.56, p < .001, R2 = .20.

First, the PROCESS analysis showed that the direct effect of additional information did not significantly predict willingness to scan the QR code, b = 0.23, t = 1.46, p = .147, 95% CI [- 0.08, 0.53]. Second, the PROCESS analysis showed that the presence of additional information did not significantly predict QR code customer satisfaction as well, b = -0.11, t = -0.66, p = .509, 95% CI [-0.42, 0.21], however, QR code customer satisfaction revealed to be a significant predictor of willingness to scan the QR code, b = 0.18, t = 2.39, p = .018, 95% CI [0.03, 0.33].

But most importantly, the results of the presence of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code through QR code customer satisfaction showed a non-significant indirect effect, b = -0.02, 95% CI [-0.10, 0.05]. As the confidence interval includes zero, the mediation is not supported, and thus, the second hypothesis is rejected as well. The results for the mediation analysis are visualized in Figure 2.

Figure 2

Conceptualization of mediation

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Exploratory analysis

For exploratory research purposes, the association between the manipulation and the covariates perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness was further explored. First, a linear regression was done with perceived ease of use as the dependent variable and presence vs.

absence of additional information as the independent variable. The results showed that additional information did not explain a significant amount of variance in perceived ease of use, F (1, 172)

= 2.35, p = .127. Therefore, no further analysis was needed for this variable. For the second variable perceived usefulness, however, the results of the linear regression were significant, F (1, 172) = 6.23, p < .050. This means that additional information explains 18.4% of the variance in perceived usefulness, reflecting a weak prediction (R2 = .18). So, when additional information is absent a decrease in perceived usefulness is shown, b = -0.18, t = -2.46, p < .050. And the other way around.

Since there was a significant association between additional information and perceived usefulness, further analysis was done to check whether perceived usefulness could be considered as a mediator in this study. This was checked with a PROCESS macro analysis by Hayes (2018) using model 4. In this exploratory analysis, additional information (presence vs. absence) was used as the independent variable, perceived usefulness as the mediator variable, and willingness to scan the QR code as the dependent variable. The total effects of the model were significant, F (1, 172) = 6.03, p < .050, R2 = .03. First, the results showed that the direct effect of additional information did not significantly predict willingness to scan the QR code, b = 0.19, t = 1.13, p = .259, 95% CI [-0.14, 0.53]. Second, the results showed that additional information significantly predicts perceived usefulness, b = -0.58, t = -2.46, p < .050, 95% CI [-1.04, -0.11]. This means that when no additional information is shown, the participants’ perceived usefulness decreases.

So, adding information seems to be helping when trying to increase people’s perceived

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usefulness. Third, perceived usefulness revealed to be a significant predictor of willingness to scan the QR code, b = 0.75, t = 13.82, p < .001, 95% CI [0.64, 0.85]. So, here it seems that when the participants perceive the QR code as useful, their willingness to scan the QR code increases as well. However, the results revealed a non-significant indirect effect, b = -0.24, 95% CI [-0.72, 0.24]. Since the confidence interval includes zero, the mediation is not supported, and therefore, perceived usefulness should not be considered as a mediator in this research.

Conclusion and discussion

This research aimed to study the effect of the presence vs. absence of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code, and whether it is mediated by QR code customer satisfaction and moderated by level of privacy concern. To test this, an online

experiment was conducted. The results showed that there was no difference between the presence of additional information and the absence of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code, which meant that the first hypothesis was rejected. The rejection of this hypothesis was not in line with the theoretical expectations based on the results of previous studies. These studies suggested that providing additional information would have a positive influence on consumers’

attitudes toward mobile advertising and willingness to scan (Tsang et al., 2004; Nowak et al., 1999, as cited in Schumann & Thorson, 1999). Especially when the information is topic-relevant, consumers’ ability to process the information would be positively influenced (Higgins et al., 1982). As described earlier, there are two ways to provide additional information with QR codes:

(1) QR codes as a tool to provide additional information or (2) additional information alongside a QR code. This research focused on the second way. The participants, however, might have expected the first way. More research on this specific topic could clarify the results and make sure that the instructions about what was considered as additional information are clearer.

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Additionally, the results showed that the effect of additional information on the

willingness to scan the QR code is not explained by the mediator QR code customer satisfaction, which meant that the relationship is not predicted by whether a customer is satisfied with the QR code or not. According to the literature, when consumers are satisfied with the QR code, this would positively influence their willingness to scan the QR code, which is in line with the results of this research. However, this research focused on the indirect effect of QR code customer satisfaction instead of the direct effect of QR code customer satisfaction on the willingness to scan the QR code. And since there was no indirect effect, exploratory research was done to check whether the covariates perceived ease of use and usefulness influenced the relationship.

Literature suggested that additional information alongside a QR code would have a positive effect on customer satisfaction when the information is perceived as useful and easy to use (Davis, 1989, as cited in Jung et al., 2012). However, the results of the exploratory analysis again revealed that the perceived ease of use and usefulness were not necessary to include in the analysis. This was not in line with the literature as well. To conclude, this research was a step in the right direction of finding out what the effect of QR code customer satisfaction was. No difference was found in the indirect effect, but a positive influence of QR code customer

satisfaction on the willingness to scan the QR code was found instead. Other analyses should be done to further explore this specific relationship.

This research also showed that the effect of additional information on the willingness to scan the QR code did not differ for people with different levels of privacy concerns. Again, this was not in line with previous literature that suggested that consumers with more privacy concerns would have a lower willingness to participate in online profiling, or in other words scan the QR code (Okazaki et al., 2019), when additional information was present. However, it is important to note here that the average scores of privacy concerns were not very divergent in the first place.

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Maybe even more important, that the average scores of the low and high level of privacy concern were both above the 5 on a seven-point scale. So, the scores for both levels of privacy concern were rather high. Therefore, it should be noted that privacy concerns were present in both groups, which might have caused a skew in the data on using a QR code in the restaurant industry. Since apparently all participants were concerned that their data could be used involuntarily after scanning the QR code, and those with a higher level of privacy concern place more value on information transparency features (Awad & Krisnan, 2006). A practical implication to the restaurant owners would be to be very transparent about why the QR code is used in the first place and what is done with their data in the afterwards. This might convince the customers with high privacy concerns to scan the QR code.

On top of that, the second manipulation check was not successful. So, the conclusions drawn from this research related to the relationship between the independent variable and dependent variables might not have been as accurate as desired. This means that the participants did not answer the question of whether they had seen additional information on how to scan the QR code in the picture as expected. So, even after successfully implementing a pretest, the manipulation did not work as intended in the main analysis. Besides, a misinterpretation of the manipulation check question was confirmed by one of the participants, who indicated to have thought that the small text above the stimuli in the questionnaire was intended as additional information. Even though this unexpected result could not have been accounted for, a more thorough manipulation check might help. An idea might be to put the instructions on a separate page than the stimuli, so the possibility of misinterpreting decreases.

Furthermore, something worth mentioning is the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 87.9% of the participants currently reside in The Netherlands and new regulations were introduced during this study which obligated restaurants to temporarily close their doors, the results might have

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been influenced (Ministerie van Algemene Zaken, 2021). Therefore, the participants who resided in the Netherlands might have dealt with a switch in opinions towards the use of QR codes in the restaurant industry. In the open question at the end of the questionnaire, a participant explained that if the QR code was set in place for hygienic reasons, they would be more willing, and it would be more useful to have a QR code instead of a physical menu at a restaurant. Apart from the fact that the majority resides in the Netherlands, the whole world has been dealing with COVID-19 for over two years now (Ministerie van Algemene Zaken, 2021), so the opinions towards the use of QR codes in the restaurant industry might have been different for all

participants. Additionally, multiple participants mentioned that they preferred human service over QR codes which was not asked for in the questionnaire. This was already touched upon in the introduction, which mentioned the fact that QR codes are still relatively primitive and have an obvious weakness when it comes to the reality of limited interaction with the consumer (Shin et al., 2012). Here, a practical implication for restaurant owners would be to think about whether it is necessary to use QR codes instead of human service. Besides, another possibility for future research could be to have a real experiment in a restaurant to make sure that the research gains more validity.

To conclude, this study contributed to the knowledge on the effectiveness of additional information (presence vs. absence) on the customers’ willingness to scan the QR code, the indirect effect of QR code customer satisfaction in this relationship, and the differences between the levels of privacy concerns (low vs. high). Despite the unexpected results of this study, and rejections of all hypotheses, some interesting results came to light which might help marketers and restaurant owners when considering providing a QR code in their restaurant. It should be noted that the results could also be interpreted in such a way that QR codes might be effective without the use of additional information or in another context than in a restaurant. Furthermore,

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since the rise of digital media technologies is here, it is useful to look at opportunities upon how to effectively implement those technologies and how to persuade people to use them. These theoretical and practical implications provide a useful basis for marketers when considering using QR codes for persuasive purposes.

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Appendices

Appendix A - Questionnaire

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Informed consent Dear participant,

First, thank you for your interest in participating in this research project! Before the experiment starts, it is important that you are well-informed about the procedure. Therefore, we would like you to read this information letter carefully. Please do not hesitate to ask for clarification about this text or the general procedure. If anything is unclear, the researcher will gladly answer your questions.

1. Goal of the study

The aim of this study is to research QR codes in the restaurant industry. This implies QR codes that direct you to their menu so that you can order via your phone. For this research, you do not need to scan the QR code.

2. Procedure

Participation in the study entails no considerable risks or inconveniences. Participation in this study takes approximately 7 minutes.

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3. Information about the research

As this research is being carried out under the responsibility of The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), which is part of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), we can guarantee that your personal information (about who you are) remains confidential and will not be shared without your explicit consent. Your research data will be analyzed to answer the research question as described above in the goal of this study. Note that further processing of your data is possible, provided that this is compatible with this purpose. Research data published in scientific journals will be anonymous and cannot be traced back to you as an individual.

Finally: completely anonymized data can be made publicly accessible.

4. More information

For more information about the research you are welcome to contact the researcher Claire Stals, claire.stals@student.uva.nl.

Should you have any complaints or comments about the course of the research and the

procedures it involves as a consequence of your participation in this research, you can contact the designated member of the Ethics Review Board representing ASCoR via ascor‐secr‐fmg@uva.nl.

Any complaints or comments will be treated in the strictest confidence. I hope to have provided you with sufficient information. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you in advance for your assistance with this research, which I greatly appreciate.

Kind regards,

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Claire Stals

Q1 If you would like to participate in the questionnaire, click on “Yes” below. With this you declare: * I am 16 years or older. * I have read and understood the information. * I agree to participate in the study and to use the data obtained with it. * I reserve the right to withdraw this consent without giving any reason. For anonymous data this is only during the study. * I reserve the right to stop the study at any time I wish.

o Yes, I participate (1)

o No, I am not participating (2)

End of Block: Informed consent

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Information on QR code experience

Intro text QR code Please carefully read and answer the following statement regarding your experience with QR codes to see the menu and/or order in a restaurant.

Q2 About how many times have you used QR codes to see the menu and/or order in a restaurant?

o Never o Once o 2 to 5 times o 6 to 10 times

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o 11 to 20 times o More than 20 times

End of Block: Information on QR code experience

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Demographics

Q3 What is your gender?

o Male o Female o Other

o Prefer not to say

Q4 What is your age?

(Please answer in years)

________________________________________________________________

Q5 In which country do you currently reside?

▼ Afghanistan (1) ... Zimbabwe (1357)

Q6 What is the highest degree or level of school you have completed?

(If you are currently enrolled, please indicate the highest degree you have received) o Less than high school diploma

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o High school degree or equivalent o Some college, no degree

o Bachelor's degree o Master's degree o Professional degree o Doctorate

o Prefer not to say End of Block: Demographics

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Moderator questions (privacy concerns)

Underneath, there are some statements I would like you to answer. There are no right or wrong answers.

Strongly

Disagree (1)

Disagree (2)

Somewhat Disagree

(3)

Neither Agree nor

Disagree (4)

Somewhat Agree

(7)

Agree (8)

Strongly Agree

(9)

All things considered, the Internet would

o o o o o o o

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cause serious privacy problems.

Compared to others, I am more

sensitive about the way online companies handle

my personal information.

o o o o o o o

To me, it is the most important thing to keep my

privacy intact from online companies.

o o o o o o o

I believe other people are too much concerned

with online privacy issues.

o o o o o o o

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Compared with other subjects on

my mind, personal privacy is very important.

o o o o o o o

I am concerned about threats to my personal privacy today.

o o o o o o o

End of Block: Moderator questions (privacy concerns)

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Text before stimuli

Please carefully read the following text.

Imagine that you're entering a restaurant. The waiter has just guided you to your table and after taking off your jacket, you're ready to order something to drink and you see a QR code on the table that says, "order via the QR code". This is the point where the picture on the next page comes in, you do not need to scan the QR code. Please carefully view the following picture.

After 20 seconds the questionnaire will automatically proceed. The picture will not be shown again.

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End of Block: Text before stimuli

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Presence additional information Figure 3

Additional information present

End of Block: Presence additional information

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Absence additional information Figure 4

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Additional information absent

End of Block: Absence additional information

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Mediator customer satisfaction

Q8 You just saw an image presenting a design with a QR code in a restaurant. Please carefully read and answer the following statements (there are no right or wrong answers).

Strongly

Disagree (1)

Disagree (2)

Somewhat Disagree

(3)

Neither Agree

nor

Somewhat Agree (5)

Agree (6)

Strongly Agree

(9)

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Disagree (4)

I am satisfied with the design

that contains the QR code.

o o o o o o o

I am excited with the design that has the QR

code.

o o o o o o o

The presence of the QR code

on the table is an asset comparing to

its absence.

o o o o o o o

End of Block: Mediator customer satisfaction

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Willingness to scan the QR code

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Keeping the image presenting a design with a QR code in a restaurant in mind, please answer the following question.

Q9 I am willing to scan the QR code.

o Strongly Disagree o Disagree

o Somewhat Disagree

o Neither Agree nor Disagree o Somewhat Agree

o Agree

o Strongly Agree

End of Block: Willingness to scan the QR code

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Manipulation check

Please answer the following question keeping the shown image with the QR code in mind.

Q10 The image presented contained additional (informative) information on how to scan the QR code.

o Yes

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o No

End of Block: Manipulation check

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Control & open questions

You're almost finished. Please carefully read and answer the following statements.

Q11 Do you perceive the QR code as useful?

o Strongly Disagree o Disagree

o Somewhat Disagree

o Neither Agree nor Disagree o Somewhat Agree

o Agree

o Strongly Agree

Q12 Do you perceive the QR code as easy to use?

o Strongly Disagree o Disagree

o Somewhat Disagree

o Neither Agree nor Disagree

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o Somewhat Agree o Agree

o Strongly Agree

Q13 Thank you for filling in the questionnaire. If you have any comments, please do not hesitate to fill them in here. No answer needed.

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

End of Block: Control & open questions

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Consent

Q14 For anonymous data collection:

o By clicking this box, I agree to participate in this study and to submit my data for analysis.

o By clicking this box, I don’t agree to participate in this study and submit my data for analysis.

End of Block: Consent

______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Block: Debriefing

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Thank you again for your participation in my study on QR codes in the restaurant industry.

Now that the experiment is over, I'll elaborate on the actual goal of this study. The aim of this experiment was to find out whether the presence of additional information alongside the QR code in a restaurant has an effect on the willingness to scan the QR code. Additionally, the role of customer satisfaction and privacy concerns was also measured. For the purpose of measuring the effect, this study contained two different pictures, but only one was randomly showed.

If you have any questions regarding this study do not hesitate to contact me at the following e- mail address claire.stals@student.uva.nl.

Click next to end the survey.

End of Block: Debriefing

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Appendix B – Exploratory ANOVA Analysis Table 2

Results of the Two-Way Analysis of Variance

SS df MS F p ƞ2

Additional information 2.82 1 2.82 1.15 0.286 0.01

Level of privacy concern 17.36 1 17.36 7.06 0.009 0.04 Additional information *

Level of privacy concern 1.62 1 1.62 0.47 0.493 0.00

Error 417.96 170 2.46

Total 438.72 173

Note: N = 174. The ANOVA was run for exploratory research purposes.

Figure

Updating...

References

Related subjects :