Unlike Americans, most Chinese leave their wallets at home. In its place is WeChat, an app that has become woven into Chinese life. WeChat is used by almost 900 million Chinese on a daily basis.
A byproduct of WeChat’s ubiquity in China is the rise of the QR code, its importance exemplified by a recent speech by WeChat’s founder, who mentioned QR codes once every four minutes. The benefits of QR codes are manifold: QR codes can be used to gather information on products, access coupons, transfer money, pay for purchases large and small, and simply open a company’s website or video. As a result, Chinese tourists take WeChat – and their affinity for QR codes – with them wherever they travel.
WeChat offers businesses a chance to connect with their customers sharing the latest company news, sales and promotions to build their brand. Starbucks, which expects to open 500 stores a year in China, recently took advantage of this opportunity by adding QR codes to their cups. This single move gave the chain over a million followers on WeChat. Sprite followed suit, adding a QR code to their cans that offered users a chance to play games and win a free trip to an amusement park or concert.
Otte, a New-York fashion boutique, started using both QR codes and WeChat to promote to their sizeable Chinese audience. The promotion’s success led to a second store opening in Shanghai. No matter what the industry, using QR codes correctly can help your business gain exposure, and ultimately sales with Chinese visitors to the US.
The reason that QR codes work so well for Chinese tourists is pure convenience and the ease of placement. Apple and Android have yet to ship a phone with a QR reader pre-loaded, which means that US brands at least have been slow to adopt a technology that is part of daily life in China. In China, QR codes are on business cards, billboards, signs, posters, stores, products, even used by panhandlers. The WeChat scanner is integral to the Chinese lifestyle.
If your business wants to make your products and services more accessible to Chinese tourists, first provide the QR codes on-site, and if possible offer free Wi-Fi, since roaming charges are expensive, and can discourage potential users from scanning the codes. Finally, make sure the QR code link lands on a mobile-friendly page, as most (if not all) users will be accessing it via a smartphone. If you need help with your China strategy, Attract China would be happy to oblige.