13 QR Code Trends Shaping Marketing in 2021

Thanks to advancements in QR Code technology and a boost in smartphone adoption, QR Codes can simplify ordering and payments, streamline marketing, and bridge the online and offline customer experience. So how can you jump on these cutting-edge QR Code trends to fuel your 2021 marketing strategy? Dive into this article to discover a wealth of possibilities to drive more results.

QR (quick response) Codes may seem like a fad we left back in the early 2010s, but as it turns out, there’s a revival on the cards. QR Code usage has jumped 26% in recent years. Why? 

Because in 2010, QR Codes were ahead of their time. 

While smartphones were undoubtedly in existence then, they’re simply not the technology to leverage the full potential of what we’re seeing from QR Codes today.

As Wired’s David Pierce explains, QR Codes “required a world where everyone always had their phone, where all phones had great cameras, and where that camera was capable of doing more than just opening websites.”

2010 wasn’t that world. 2021 will be.

In the US, 85% of adults use a smartphone, and most models now come with a built-in QR scanner on the camera app. For smartphones that don’t have a QR Code reader, there are plenty of third-party apps to download in seconds.

Not only is it easier than ever to read QR Codes, but companies are also able to add branding to QR Codes to incorporate brand personality into the traditional black and white square. Plus, with Dynamic QR Codes, you can easily track and measure where, when, and how many potential customers view your content or use your services. Unsure what a Dynamic QR Code is? You should brush up on our guide to Dynamic vs Static QR Codes.

Most importantly, the use cases for QR Codes have exploded. Extending well beyond the traditional website link, QR Codes can now be used for everything from payments, playlists, order collections, and even virtual tour guides.

If you want to rise above your competition in 2021, you will need innovative marketing tactics that optimize the user experience and build a relationship with your customers.

QR Codes do just that by offering an interactive way for the consumers to engage with your brand, both in the real world and online.

Check out these popular trends for revolutionary ideas to shape your 2021 QR Code marketing strategy.

#1 Offer discounts and coupons

Encourage impulse purchases by offering a discount or promotion with your custom QR Code.

QR Codes provide customers with a much simpler method of claiming deals and discounts. Rather than searching for voucher codes and inputting them manually, a QR Code will take consumers straight to the offer with just a quick scan. Learn how to create high-performing commercials with QR Code advertising.

#2 Show in-depth product details

Brands use QR Codes to close the gap between physical and digital marketing.
You’ll find that many brands now use in-store QR Code labels on products. By scanning the QR Code labels, customers can find out detailed specifications about the products.

QR Code on a clothing label prompting people to scan for other available sizes and colors
A retailer integrates a QR Code into the design of its clothing label

The clothing retailer in the above example uses this technique to show customers how its clothes are manufactured. The idea is to boost its reputation by showing that there’s no exploitation throughout the supply chain.

#3 – Direct to social media

To build a customer community, include QR Codes that send users to your social media pages. 

This technique has been around for a while on platforms like Snapchat, Line, and WeChat. However, it’s become an increasingly popular marketing tactic this year since Instagram announced its QR Code functionality. 

Video QR Code on a price tag prompts people to scan and watch a video about the company's brand values
(Image Source) A Social Media QR Code boosts followers for a fashion brand.

Rather than choosing between social media pages, however, why not use a social media QR Code that sends users to an all-in-one landing page?

The social media channels a company offers on a Social Media QR Code landing page
(Image Source) All the social media channels this retailer offers via a Social Media QR Code.

Offer links to all your social media profiles so customers can choose the platform that most suits them.

#4 – Encourage reviews

Typically, users read between one and six reviews for products before purchasing. 

To encourage as many reviews as possible, make it simple for your customers to leave feedback in a place that’s easy for others to see.

Rating QR Code on a juice product packaging prompting buyers to scan and rate the new flavor
(Image Source) A food company encourages customers to leave reviews with a Ratings QR Code. 

Send customers to review websites like Yelp or offer a landing page where customers can rate your product. You’ll be able to use this rating as social proof to boost credibility in future marketing.

#5 – Provide video QR Codes

Ever bought a piece of flat-packed furniture, only to find yourself unsure which way up the directions go? 

Instead of unclear paper instructions, Video QR Codes link customers to instructional videos and product demonstrations to guide customers on how to assemble and use the product.

Add a QR Code to product packaging so that customers can scan new items to access video guides on your YouTube channel or website.

#6 – Offer a virtual tour guide

QR Codes are a killer way to offer interactive experiences to visitors. Whether it’s a museum, art gallery, walking tour, historical monument, etc., QR Codes can link users to video, audio, and articles that provide a guided tour of the attraction.

In fact, why not offer a guided tour of your store and its range? By scanning in-store QR Codes with their iPhone or Android device, customers learn more about your brand as they move through the in-store experience.

#7 – Streamline entry and check-in

It’s rare to get a plane ticket or concert ticket that doesn’t have a QR Code. QR Code technology has streamlined entry processes to speed up wait times.

This will be an especially poignant use for QR Codes in 2021. 

To adhere to social distancing measures, many establishments (like medical waiting rooms) are now looking to employ remote queuing. Visitors check-in at the QR scanner with their QR Code and then wait outside or in their car. Users are notified by SMS when it’s time for their appointment.

#8 – Add a musical dimension

Some organizations are using QR Codes to direct customers to company-made playlists on apps like Spotify. 

The team puts together a playlist that shows off the brand’s personality. Customers are encouraged to listen to the playlist while shopping in-store, using the product, or benefiting from the service.

For example, a gym could add a daily workout playlist to give members a multisensory experience while working out.

An MP3 QR Code and the landing page where a band previews a new song from their album
(Image Source) A band previews a track from its new album with a MP3 QR Code. 

For musicians, use an audio QR Code to send listeners straight to an mp3 of your album.

#9 – Track customer movement

As can be seen with the track and trace apps developing in the global health sector, QR Codes offer a quick and easy way for customers to check in at physical locations.

A QR Code prompting people to scan and help with COVID contact tracing
(Image Source) A QR Code is used to help with contact tracing during the covid-19 pandemic.

While this is being used to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, you can also leverage customer check-in to track which stores are popular and which promotions work in different locations. Connect a QR Code to your brand app to send personalized local promotions related to the stores that each customer checks in at.

#10 – Funnel readers to your blog

There are around 27.5 million blogs on the internet today. That’s a lot of competition to beat for readership.

By creating a QR Code, you can funnel readers straight to your blog sign-up page to increase readership with an easy subscription. Add the QR Code to your business cards, merchandise, social media pages, and social media groups to encourage signups.

#11 – Provide contactless QR Code menus

Contactless QR Code menus help to improve the customer experience and adhere to social distancing measures. Place a QR Code that leads to a virtual menu on your restaurant tables and marketing materials.

(Image Source) A restaurant offers a digital menu via QR Code. 

Optimize the QR Code menu by enabling contactless payment through the QR Code link.

#12 – Streamline mobile payments

Contactless payment systems are the future. 

While NFC technology (near-field communication) is one of the most popular ways of doing this, payments can only be made from no more than four centimeters away. 

A contactless payment QR Code, however, will go through from any distance, as long as the Code is big enough for your device to read. With social distancing becoming the norm, QR Code payment systems seem like a much more sensible solution.

#13 – Gamify the customer experience

Gamification is a technique to foster interactive engagement with the consumer through games.

Event planners will often use QR Code scavenger hunts at physical events to encourage attendees to move around the entire space. These scavenger hunt QR Codes may include links to gifts, promotions, or even landing pages that include small games.

Why not try gamifying QR Codes at virtual events too? Flash different QR Codes throughout an online event to prevent attendance from dropping off throughout the event.


It’s pretty obvious that QR Codes are back in vogue. With so much more functionality than the early 2010s, QR Code trends show creative and diverse ways of applying this technology to engage your audience.

Whether you’re trying to perk up a lifeless museum tour, streamline payments, or follow changing health standards, QR Codes get customers from A to B quickly, simply, and with limited contact.
If you need more help on getting your head around the QR Code trends that will shape 2021, contact the expert team at QR Code Generator today.

Joanne Camarce

Joanne Camarce is a digital marketing expert specializing in SEO, eCommerce, and social media. She loves meeting new people and embraces challenges. When she's not wearing her marketing hat, you'll find Joanne fine-tuning her art and music skills.

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