June 11, 2021

Do People Use QR Codes in 2021? (Spoiler Alert: YES!)

Amy Huang

The Rise of QR Codes

It is not an exaggeration to say that QR codes are everywhere. Among 500 participants in a recent Brij survey, more than 90% had scanned a QR code with their smartphone within the last month, and over half had done so within the week! Furthermore, 91% of respondents said they wanted to see QR codes used more broadly in the future, and over three quarters of people surveyed were willing to share their email address with a brand in exchange for discounts – perhaps highlighting an opportunity for future QR code adoption.

Whether it’s to view a menu, order ahead, download an app, or even to get to this article, you most likely have experience with QR code scans by now. The food industry was one of the first to integrate this technology into their contactless blueprint, and within months, QR codes were placed not only on restaurant tables but also on store windows, at vaccination sites, and along museum walls. To read more about the pandemic’s influence on the reemergence and widespread use of QR codes, check out our article, “Q-R You Ready? The Future of QR Codes.”

We surveyed 500 people to get a better idea of their perceptions towards QR codes

Barcodes, But Better 

There is no shortage of articles that comment on the revitalization of QR codes during the pandemic. Headlines such as “How the Pandemic Saved the QR Code From Extinction” and “How Covid Turbocharged the QR Revolution” give a good recap of this expeditious ascent. And still, the numbers tell a much more impressive story. Businesses have experienced tremendous growth in QR code usage: Egoditor, a mobile marketing company that runs an online QR code generator, has seen a 25x increase in signups from restaurants in June 2020 compared to February 2020. Seek, which uses QR codes in its augmented reality solutions, experienced a 600 percent increase in AR usage since March.

Even though we've touched on this before, it's worth repeating that the native mobile camera app integration was a huge driver for increasing QR code adoption. Before that, users had to load their app store of choice and search "quick response codes" to download countless (often ad supported) apps. The native integration has accelerated utility and accessibility tremendously.

The iOS and Android camera app has company in this space, too. Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Snapchat have all experimented heavily with static QR codes, dynamic QR codes, and other iterations for various interaction modalities. Nonetheless, these tech giants still haven't figured out how to build a bridge between the physical and digital worlds (more on this in a moment).

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Among 500 participants in a recent Brij survey, more than 90% had scanned a QR code with their smartphone within the last month, and over half had done so within the week!

The Pandemic as the Catalyst for Shoppers

In the early months of the pandemic, we saw businesses experiment with different ways to advertise and operate in a socially-distanced world. Restaurants and bars, for example, worked with contactless delivery, curbside pickup, outdoor dining, and digital menus. As these businesses introduced and adapted to new, pandemic-friendly measures and devices, so did their customers. Now fifteen months into the pandemic, we are well-versed in the new norms of mask wearing, temperature checks, contactless payment, and, most importantly, QR code scanners. 

The momentum behind QR codes does not seem to be fading away anytime soon. In fact, retailers and marketers are only just beginning to use QR codes in creative ways and tailor their application to the brand by pairing them with calls to action. QR codes can be seen in the most unexpected and conspicuous places: spray painted on sidewalks, worn by people, printed on golf balls, and even assembled in the sky.

Business leaders have also forecasted the use of QR codes after the pandemic: Edmund Inkin, co-owner of three hotels under the brand Eat Drink Sleep, says, “[This technology is] going to become fairly hardwired both into how we do things and how our guests do things, what they expect.” After experiencing a 70% increase in sales following the use of QR code advertising, founder of Hero Cosmetics Ju Rhyu says, “I’m really eager to be one of those brands that really embraces [QR codes] in a much bigger way.”

Take Advantage of the QR Code Comeback 

Brij can help brands make the most out of QR codes. Brij takes QR codes to the next level by providing brands with unique codes that can be printed onto product inserts, products packaging, or the product itself, emphasizing accessibility and efficiency. Brij’s one-touch landing page onto a registration and re-order platform incentivizes consumers to register their product, thereby driving loyalty and giving brands access to valuable first-party data that is lost through wholesale. Consumers, too, gain access to discounts, QR code coupons, product information, warranties, and much more.

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