Interest in QR codes may be dwindling in the West but the technology is going strong in China, and increasingly popular in India too.
Their success has been helped by tech giants such as Tencent and Alibaba pushing the concept to consumers, with Alipay (presently China’s most popular online payment method) adopting the tech in 2011.
QR codes technology has been integrated into China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat, both as a means of payment and as a method of quickly adding contacts.
This integration of QR reader software into a commonly used messaging app may partially help explain the widespread use of QR technology in China.
The WeChat app is so widely used already that it doesn’t seem like an arduous process to scan a QR code in the same way downloading a dedicated QR scanner app and navigating to it each time a user sees a code offline.
China’s language may also be partly responsible for QR code popularity. Rendering the complex language into written form is tricky and time-consuming, and Chinese mobile users tend to avoid typing it where possible.
Mobile users will commonly record short voicemail messages rather than type out a written message. QR codes can help them quickly access a brand online rather than having to type out the name in mobile search.
Brands have very limited ability to contact consumers in WeChat – unless that is, they persuade the consumer to follow their account. Brands can use QR codes to encourage people to follow them, after which they can send them more targeted and personalized communications.
It’s very common for brands to entice users to scan their QR code, taking them to the brand’s WeChat account where the user is encouraged to subscribe using promises such as special offers.
Starbucks added over a quarter of a million WeChat followers by adding a QR code to the lid of one of its drinks. Other brands have used QR code technology to prevent counterfeiting.
Users can scan the QR code to find vital product information such as the supply chain history.