The pandemic brought forth ample shifts and disruptions in industries worldwide. And with that shift came the resurgence of QR Codes – a contactless solution that bridges the gap between physical and digital experiences.
Besides being a mobile-first technology that minimizes contact and aligns with safety measures, we’ve witnessed QR Codes picking up relevance as a unique marketing tool.
You see them everywhere – on packaging, billboards, business cards, gyms, museums, and restaurants.
Brands are using QR Codes in a myriad of ways, from sharing valuable information, discounts, and music to delivering a compelling Augmented Reality experience.
Both businesses and consumers are now more aware of this technology’s potential and functionality and are convinced that QR Codes aren’t going anywhere.
According to a study by The Drum and YouGov, 75% of consumers have said that they plan to use QR Codes moving forward.
Enter QR Codes – a technology that doesn’t require an app for scanning.
Android and iOS are continuously making updates to increase QR scanning capabilities in mobile devices. All the user needs to do is point their smartphone’s camera at the QR Code, and they’re taken to the destination link instantly.
QR Codes managed to overcome the hurdle of downloading an additional app. The average internet speed has also increased to 5.6 Mbps, allowing consumers to scan QR Codes at lightning speed.
According to Cisco’s report, global fixed broadband speeds will reach 110.4 Mbps by 2023.
Cocokind, an organic beauty brand in the US, launched a new secondary product packaging focused primarily on sustainability.
The packaging has a QR Code that, upon scanning, directs consumers to the brand’s website to access more information on how much of the packaging is reusable, along with additional resources on sustainability.
Priscilla Tsai, the founder of Cocokind, said that the change in packaging was done to internally measure the environmental impact of the products and make sure that the burden of education is on the brand and not the consumers.
#4 Pizza Hut’s AR Pac-Man experience using a QR Code
unspun, a digital apparel brand, launched Genesis, its most sustainable pair of jeans. They were manufactured using Resortecs smart stitch threads, which make them easier to recycle.
The jeans have a QR Code that links consumers to circular care instructions and relevant data for resellers and recyclers.
The creation of these Genesis jeans helps solve the environmental challenges of denim. It massively reduces energy consumption, water usage, and waste.
QR Code popularity in 2022
In 2021, Beaconstac’s QR Code generator witnessed 63 million scans. Based on the rate of growth and the predictable levers, we can expect this number to double in 2022.
QR Codes initially made a comeback by showing up as digitized menus at restaurants for safe and contactless dining.
Fast-forward to a year later. They’re also used to display vaccine certificates as proof of immunization for travel and entering venues.
Consumers had to adapt to these new changes, understand how the technology works, and know what to do when they see a QR Code.
Digital menus and vaccination certificates played a crucial role in transforming QR Codes into the mainstream technology that we know and love today.
This was a game changer for brands because they found a new and improved way to communicate with their audience and build meaningful connections.
QR Codes are an agile technology that can adapt to every business’s needs. From connecting to a WiFi network to accessing an instruction manual for assembling furniture – the possibilities of QR Code usage knows no bounds.
According to Juniper Research, by 2022, 5.3 billion QR Code coupons will be redeemed by smartphones.
The study also mentions that 1 billion smartphones will access QR Codes by 2022. This is a whopping 300% increase from its initial estimates in 2017.
Every touchpoint in the consumer buying journey, from awareness to brand advocacy, can be amplified using QR Codes. It helps you ramp up your marketing efforts, nudge consumers to convert and provide memorable brand experiences.
QR Code usage has evolved and accelerated, with more and more individuals getting confident in scanning them for multiple purposes.
According to Bitly, there has been a 750% increase in QR Code downloads since the start of the pandemic.
QR Code trends to look forward to in 2022
#1 QR Codes for marketing sustainability initiatives
A major trend that continues to grow in importance in 2022 is sustainability, whether for product packaging or clothing.
Consumers these days are more environmentally conscious of the products they buy.
57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce negative environmental impact, according to IBM’s reports.
As part of their efforts to sustainably market their products, brands incorporate QR Codes on packaging and clothing labels to convey how they are contributing towards a circular economy. This includes sharing details of the recyclable materials used and tips on how to reuse the packaging.
Nike has introduced their refurbishment program (Nike Refurbished) as part of its initiative to reduce its carbon footprint. The program enables consumers to return their shoes within a 60-day window from the date of purchase if they’re not satisfied with it.
These shoes are then inspected and refurbished to a new condition as much as possible and given a condition grade. Once these shoes are placed back on-store, they are priced based on the type of footwear and condition grade.
The brand’s shoe box has a QR Code that educates consumers on the type and condition of the footwear inside, along with more information on the brand’s refurbishment program.
#2 QR Codes to unlock AR experiences for customers
With consumers now comfortable scanning QR Codes, there are increasing opportunities for cross-channel interactions throughout the shopping journey. QR Codes can elevate retail campaigns with innovative Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence, making the brand experience more tangible beyond the purchase event.
Since most AR experiences are unlocked using smartphones, brands utilize QR Codes to allow consumers to access these immersive experiences with a single scan.
AR QR Codes are used extensively for virtual try-on, games, competitions, and visualizing products in the real world. Combining the power of Augmented Reality and QR Codes elevates consumer engagement levels and increases their connection with brands.
Bonus tip: Use markers on your QR Codes
If you have a marker, you can upload it as a logo to the QR Code on the generator and create an AR experience.
But what if you’re not well-versed with markers? Seek is the answer. Seek delivers AR through a simple QR Code. You can have a Tesla in your driveway. A Fortnite dancer in your living room. Or, see how the Amazon Echo looks like in your kitchen.
BoohooMAN, a men’s fashion retailer, had launched its first AR QR Code campaign for Black Friday in the US and UK. Upon scanning the QR Code, a digital character named Robin, the hacker, comes to life and takes over the fashion world to reveal the latest discounts to shoppers. This virtual experience, along with the use of storytelling, added value to customers’ shopping experience.
#3 Hospitality: More than just QR Code menus
Over the past year and a half, over 30% of the hospitality industry expanded its use of QR Codes beyond just menus.
Hotels and restaurants can use QR Codes for a plethora of use cases, from checking in to sharing COVID protocols, posting valuable feedback on social media or their website, and so much more.
According to BUILDINGS.com’s article, hotel indoor air quality plays a major role in acquiring more guests to stay. Carbon Lighthouse’s article mentions that 77% of consumers are prompted to stay at a hotel that provides details of its indoor air quality (IAQ).
In order to provide these details to guests easily, hotel managers can employ QR Codes to display information on the hotel’s IAQ.
Capitec Bank, based in South Africa, had recently enabled its customers to generate personalized QR Codes on the bank’s app to receive payments securely from other Capitec customers.
The bank has already witnessed over 2.5 million customers activate their personal QR Codes a week after launching this offering on their app.
QR Code usage: How QR Codes continue to stay relevant in 2022
#1 Digital QR Code menus are here to stay
The pandemic had propagated a safe, touch-free dining experience to limit contact and curb the spread of the virus.
Several health organizations have encouraged restaurants to switch to disposable menus. But due to the increase in printing costs and impact on the environment, QR Code menus became a safe and effective alternative.
You can add digital menu QR Codes to tabletops or placards. Customers can scan and view the menu on their smartphones and place an order easily. This promotes the contactless dining experience and eliminates the hassle of flagging down a waiter.
With popular eating joints such as KFC, McDonald’s, and Curry Up switching to digital menu QR Codes, we’ve witnessed multiple eateries adopt this technology for a safe and refined dining experience.
It wasn’t that long ago that QR Codes were laughably dinosaur technology. Now, QR Code companies are reaping the rewards, as money has been pouring into firms in the food service space over the past year.
According to Raydiant’s report, 82% of consumers are more likely to return to a physical store if they have a positive in-store experience.
A significant trend in the brick-and-mortar space has been the digitization of in-store experiences, and QR Codes are a key technology that enables these experiences.
Sainsbury’s, a popular supermarket chain in the UK, launched their SmartShop Pick & Go service at one of their outlets. Consumers can scan the QR Code generated in the SmartShop app to enter the store. They can pick the products they want to purchase and pay for them by scanning the QR Code at the store’s automatic gates.
The store uses Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology to identify the products consumers select and add them to a virtual shopping cart.
This service provides consumers an easy contactless shopping experience, allowing them to shop for the items they need in a swift and timely manner.
Campbell’s, an American soup company, partnered with Universal Music Group (UMG) and deployed QR Codes on its cans. Upon scanning, consumers can access recipes, behind-the-scenes content, and playlists featuring new songs from UMG artists.
This campaign lets consumers engage with the brand and listen to music while cooking their favorite meals.
#4 QR Codes can be different shapes in 2022
Besides adding colors, logos, backgrounds, and frame text to QR Codes, you can also generate them in different shapes to attract customers.
Without affecting its functionality, brands can leverage circular QR Codes to fit their design requirements and elevate their brand image successfully.
#5 Automate QR Code campaigns using integrations
According to Invesp’s report, marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity.
Managing multiple QR Code campaigns is no easy feat. By integrating with platforms such as Zapier and Integromat, you can streamline your QR Code marketing activities and avoid data silos.
The best part?
There’s no coding involved.
You can transfer data to a spreadsheet for every QR Code scan, create QR Codes from details entered in Google Sheets, or even keep track of form responses. Integrations using marketing automation tools have got you covered.
#6 QR Codes are implemented for shoppable marketing campaigns
Moreover, scanning QR Codes has become second nature for consumers. This means that shoppable marketing campaigns using QR Codes have the potential to drive conversions.
Burger King’s shoppable TV campaign amazed viewers during the pandemic. The TV commercial featured a QR Code floating around the screen. Upon scanning, viewers were directed to a webpage that offered coupons for a free Whopper by purchasing through its app.
Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram have expanded the possibilities of QR Codes. Whether you’re sharing your username or promoting your business, QR Codes on social media continue to expand and engage consumers worldwide.
#8 QR Codes & direct mail is a killer combo
Just like other traditional marketing channels, QR Codes help analyze engagement and conversion rates when placed on direct mail. Consumers who have scanned the QR Code can also be retargeted online on Google and Facebook. Inkit, an automated direct mail marketing company, has come up with a few guidelines on how you can maximize your ROI with QR Codes on direct mail.
In 2022, QR Codes will continue to be one of the biggest contributors to healthcare. Several hospitals use QR Codes in their algorithms.
QR Codes can be added to the patient’s wrist. With a single scan, the doctor/nurse in charge can get the exact information about the patient; right from their particulars, medication prescribed, timings of medication, list of allergies, and easy checkout.
#10 QR Codes for car dealerships
Anyone who has visited a car dealership must have noticed long sheets displaying all the vehicles’ information on a side window. Reading the list and maintaining it is tiresome.
QR Codes can help solve this woe. By placing QR Codes on the vehicle, sales representatives and customers can scan the QR Code to get information about the car.
You can use dynamic QR Codes to update the details of any car regularly, depending on the need and demand of the market.
Benefits of QR Code usage in 2022
#1 Capable of storing large amounts of data
A QR Code is capable of storing up to 4,296 characters, making them a viable tool for various industry verticals. A QR Code can be used for inventory management, mobile marketing, product packaging, contact tracing, and even for print advertising.
A QR Code can be linked to an image, video, landing page, and website for various purposes.
With most smartphones having the ability to scan QR Codes without downloading a third-party application, anyone with a smartphone can scan a QR Code easily.
When created in an appropriate size (minimum 2 cm x 2 cm), a QR Code can be scanned even from 3 feet away, making it easy to scan and use.
Generating QR Codes does not require innate technical knowledge or surplus installation of hardware and software. All you need is an online QR Code generator, choose a QR Code type, and create a QR Code!
QR Codes are not as expensive as one might think. QR Codes are extremely cost-effective and the fact that you can use them for any purpose helps save a ton of money.
#5 Highly customizable
A QR Code can be customized to any need for any use. Traditional black and white QR Codes are so passe. A QR Code can be customized to change its background color, eyes, template, and even add a logo to seize the customer’s attention and align with your brand.
You can also create circular QR Codes to align with your brand’s design guidelines.
Static QR Codes do not expire, but dynamic QR Codes do.
If the information linked to the QR Code is outdated, the website or landing page will not show the content, making the QR Code useless.
Dynamic QR Codes expire once the free trial period is over.
If dynamic QR Codes are purchased, they do not expire.
Are QR Codes making a comeback in 2022?
QR Codes re-emerged in 2021, with multiple industries adopting the technology to create contactless experiences and elevate customer engagement.
QR Codes are now in more places than one can anticipate, such as movie tickets, plane tickets, official documents, social media channels, and payment systems.
QR Codes were never out of the market to make a comeback, but they have a powerful imprint on all kinds of businesses. More brands are working towards utilizing this technology to drive their marketing strategies and acquire more customers.
Do people use QR Codes?
The answer is yes.
Most smartphones come with a native QR Code scanner in their cameras. QR Codes are hugely popular amongst businesses and age groups of all kinds. They are also used to track campaigns, increase brand awareness, divulge a product’s detailed information, and use it to generate a high ROI.
Why are QR Codes more relevant in 2022?
A huge chunk of businesses and brands of all sizes are moving towards a technology-enabled market, so QR Codes are more relevant than ever. The number of scans has been increasing marginally, thus turning everyone to QR Codes.
What is the future of QR Codes?
According to Juniper Research, the number of QR Code coupons scanned will reach 5.3 billion by 2022. The technology is anticipated to grow in multiple folds over the next couple of years. QR Code technology will focus on AR experiences, contactless payment systems, innovative marketing campaigns, hospitality, travel, and the healthcare industry, among other key areas.
Do millennials use QR Codes?
Millennials do use QR Codes. They use them a lot more than any other generation combined or individually.
Some of the ways millennials use QR Codes are –
Facebook Messenger Codes and Market QR Codes
Contactless Payment Systems – PayPal, Walmart, and Venmo
Are QR Codes safe to use?
Yes, QR Codes are safe to use. With the help of a QR Code generator with the right security features and safe QR scanning practices, QR Codes are secure and ensure the user’s safety.
Why were QR Codes not popular in the US?
QR Codes were not popular in the United States since smartphones didn’t have QR scanning abilities. But that changed with Apple’s iOS 11 update that allows iPhones to scan QR Codes natively. Android has also made similar updates to enable QR Code scanning.
QR Codes are a powerful marketing tool that helps businesses retain customers, acquire new ones, and maximize ROI. According to Bitly, QR Code downloads have increased by 750% since the start of the pandemic.
How many possible QR Codes exist?
Different kinds of QR Codes exist. Some of them are –
Model 1 QR Code
Micro QR Code
Will barcodes replace QR Codes?
No. Barcodes and QR Codes both have their own individuality. They are both used in different circumstances adhering to industry use-cases.
QR Codes are two-dimensional barcodes, which is an upgrade of a basic barcode. Here are the advantages of QR Codes over barcodes –
QR Codes can hold any information within the square code. It can be used to link to text, business cards, multimedia, social media channels, and marketing campaigns.
QR Codes can hold up to 7,089 characters, allowing it to be more versatile than a barcode.
QR Codes resist damage. They can can go through wear-and-tear, and the agenda of the QR Code can be changed if dynamic QR Codes are used.
QR Codes can support multimedia content – video, audio, and even AR and VR.
Barcodes do not support any of the mentioned attributes and are therefore not better than QR Codes.
Does anyone actually use QR Codes?
Absolutely. With the rise of QR Code adoption since the pandemic, multiple businesses have incorporated QR Codes into their marketing strategies to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds.
Contactless payments, shopping, and ordering at restaurants are some of the uses of QR Codes in everyday life.
Are QR Codes permanent?
Static QR Codes are permanent. You cannot edit the information they hold. Hence it always shows the same information upon scanning.
Dynamic QR Codes, on the other hand, can be updated or directed to any new destination. So, upon scanning, the user sees the latest updated information or is redirected to a new page.
Want to run QR Code marketing campaigns for your business? Get in touch with Beaconstac, a comprehensive end-to-end proximity marketing solution.