QR Codes in 2022: A Forecast of What’s to Come

Back in 1994, Hara Masahiro, created the QR Code. From their infancy to awkward adolescence, some watched from a distance, saw the diamond in the making, while others saw nothing but black and white squares. 2 years ago, in the wake of the global pandemic, the world embraced it as it resurrected right before our eyes: on digital menus, product packing, digital signage, and more — the QR Code became a part of us, and we grew to depend on it to keep the vicious coronavirus at bay. 

Why QR Codes are on the rise

As the world recovers from the pandemic, the question still remains: are QR Codes outdated? Let’s cut to the chase: QR Codes are resilient rockstars. And 28 years later, they are as agile as ever. The marketing forecasts of 2022 are in — and QR Codes have made the cut. 

The growth of QR Codes during the global pandemic

Many may dismiss QR Codes as just a fad of the pandemic, but that kind of thinking just minimizes the power they behold. QR Codes aren’t just fashionable trends on their way out of season, they serve a utilitarian purpose. Just look at the 3 ways they’ve saved the day during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic: 

But it goes beyond the pandemic. QR Codes have proved themselves useful in a number of marketing campaigns. As it turns out, QR Codes are a gateway between the physical and digital world.

What is the future of QR Codes?

Thanks to the advancement of mobile technology, most modern smartphones come with a built-in QR Code scanner. This makes it more accessible, more widespread among consumers — and incrementally more normalized among users. Suffice it to say, QR Codes are on an upward trajectory.

Do people use QR Codes today?

It’s time to put this question to rest: the short answer is yes, consumers use QR Codes. And guess what — we have the data to prove it. A survey conducted in June 2021, shows us that 45% of consumers in the US (from ages 18-29) have used a QR Code related to marketing in the last 3 months. So it seems pretty clear that more people are waking up and finally starting to appreciate the artistic value of the QR Code.

The purpose of using QR Codes for today

Using QR Codes for payments

The contactless economy is upon us. More and more, people are gravitating towards cashless and touchless payments. What makes the transition from cash and card payments to digital payments more seamless is how easy it is to connect your bank account to digital wallet apps. This means consumers can simply scan a QR Code when making payments. 

Hygiene-friendly and touch-free

Out with the old, in with the new: cash is becoming outdated. No more risking dingey cash exchanges over the counter. QR Codes make it easy to make payments with a considerable amount of distance — and without physical touch. This puts customers at ease in a hygiene-conscious world, especially since the global pandemic. 

Adapting to the digital landscape

Restaurants, accommodation venues, and tourism industries have already begun to adapt to the changing climate during the pandemic — granted, their businesses depended on it. From airport check-ins, digital menus, digital travel guidelines, and hotel check-ins, QR Codes have become a protective measure for controlling the virus.  

Useful in marketing campaigns 

QR Codes are collaboration magicians for marketing campaigns. When you opt for a Dynamic QR Code with QR Code Generator, you gain access to a metric tracking tool that allows you to track your total scans versus unique scans, the devices used to scan, location of the scan by city and country, and time of the scan. Every marketer knows just how valuable this data is in determining whether their campaign is or isn’t a triumphant success. 

The marketing gods have spoken: QR Code popularity isn’t a fluke. And if used to its full potential, you’ll see even more heads turning, or better, more people scanning. Take some notes from our 4 solutions below that feature our fictional companies. 

#1 Coupon QR Codes 

A Coupon QR Code is a terrific mobile-friendly option for when you want to maximize sales, stimulate interest in what you have on offer, or up your foot traffic to your store. Dress up your print and digital materials with a personalized Coupon QR Code that fits with your brand’s style.

Before you think QR Codes will hurt your aesthetic, think again — Bad Boys Apparel’s display ad show you how you can play around visually with QR Codes.

A board on the wall displays a 30% discount on Bad Boy Apparel’s new collection, redeemable with a QR Code coupon.
Bad Boy Apparel gives its customers 30% off the new collection with a QR Code coupon.

#2 Video QR Codes

Video content is at the top of the food chain this year. But do you know what consumers really desire right now? Sustainability and brand transparency. Nowadays, consumers want to know where products come from and how they were made — and they have a right to! 

Brands now have the opportunity to gain the trust of their buyers by helping them make conscious and informed purchasing decisions. And what better way to enlighten consumers than through the medium of a Video QR Code? Educate your customers with this solution by displaying it on your packaging, labels, or even your table tents. 

Video content is not only a powerful engagement tool, but it also helps condense the info you want to bring across into something that is visual and digestible. It’s an act of transparency — and your customers will adore you even more once they know what you stand for. 

Model the example below by Fashion Fox, and help your consumers make conscious buying decisions.  

Fashion Fox reveals their sustainability practices on an infographic and a Video QR Code.
Fashion Fox practices brand transparency by revealing its sustainability practices on an infographic and Video QR Code.

#3 App QR Codes

Mobile shopping is on the rise — but more specifically mobile commerce, or m-commerce for short. In layman’s terms, it means to shop through a mobile device. The predictions project that m-commerce sales should reach a colossal high of $728.28 billion in 2025

Mobile shopping apps, of course, play an integral role here — and (drum roll please) — QR Codes. A simple solution for promoting app installations? An App QR Code comes in the first place! Mobile optimized? Check. User friendly? Check. With one QR Code, users are directed to a mobile landing page that connects them to the app store on their device. Easy-peasy. 

Munchkin Samu’s shows us how it’s done with an app promotion on their website below. Pay close attention to the logo on the QR Code and take notes to follow this fictional brand’s example. 

An App QR Code promotes Munchkin Samu’s app on their website.
Munchkin Samu promotes their app on their website.

#4 Social Media QR Code

An oldish space, known as social commerce has blown up in the online shopping world since the pandemic — so far it isn’t showing signs of decline. Simply put, social commerce involves buying and selling on social media.

Meta, Instagram, and Pinterest are leading the social commerce space as they have now enabled companies to set up a shop directly on their platforms. Brands would benefit a great deal if they began selling their goodies directly on these platforms.  

But in order for that to materialize, you need an online presence and a big social media following. If only there was a simple way to solve this problem? Newsflash: there is and it’s called the Social Media QR Code.

Add this QR Code to all your print and digital materials from digital signage, store windows, packages, labels, sticks — anything you can find to get old and new customers to join your following on social media. Turn boring windows into tasteful promotional spaces with QR Codes like Ciao Pizza below.

Ciao Pizza’s display window promotes their social media with a Social Media QR Code.
Ciao Pizza grabs the attention of passersby with a Social Media QR Code on their window display.

4 Ingenious QR Code campaigns

QR Codes are in their prime, and if you’re not convinced yet, you will be after you read about the sometimes obscure and whimsical ways you can use these patterned codes. These 4 below illustrate just how QR Codes bring marketing to life.  

QR Code art for human rights: advocating for domestic violence

“A Wall For Women” was created by internationally renowned Canadian artist, Ola Valoo in 2021. She teamed up with the NGO, YWCA Metro Vancouver to give a voice to the unheard women in Canada. A 42-foot mural with hidden QR Codes symbolically sheds light on the invisible nature of gender-based violence. Each QR Code reveals a different static related to domestic violence against women and a call to action to donate to the NGO. 

QR Code for television commercials: the Whopper race

Imagine, if you will, you could enter a QR Code scanning race and win a delicious meal — all from the comfort of your couch? Well… Burger King has made the race to the finish line quite a mouthwatering feast. The 2020 commercial enticed the audience with none other than the yummy whopper burger; the first 10,000 people to scan the QR Code won a free burger through the Burger King app. Nothing like the beautiful equation of scarcity marketing plus a giveaway to satisfy peoples’ tastebuds.

QueeR Codes: the rainbow QR Code for the LQBTQIA+ community

The rainbow has found a new home: QueeR Codes. During Pride month in 2021, historian, author, and influencer Blair Imani joined forces with Skittles to support LGBTQIIA+ communities, influencers, and artists. 

The Pride campaign, “One Rainbow” was a call for celebration: throughout Pride Month, murals were exhibited, which represented what the rainbow meant to queer artists. The murals also had QueeR Codes interweaved in their artwork, each amplifying the voices and telling the unique stories of different queer creators. 

Music, candy & QR Codes: M&M’S Album Art packet

A brand that makes you laugh, cry, and dance is worthy of praise. M & M’S did just that in their recent campaign that launched in January 2022. M&M’S new limited-edition Album Art pack is a delightful collection of candy, music, and art. With features of album covers from iconic artists from David Bowie to H.E.R., these candy packs speak to new and old diehard fans. 

And if that doesn’t make you want to buy the entire collection of the M&M’s Album Art packets then this will: each candy packet has a QR Code! And what happens when you scan it? You’re greeted by 1 out of 28 hilarious messages, like “Have a great day pretending to work” and a Spotify playlist to match the message. 

More and more, brands are embedding QR Codes into their marketing campaigns; for art, races, music, and even social justice causes. It’s not about following the trends but rather pushing the boundaries of what people think is possible with QR Codes. Do you need a Social Media QR Code to reach a wider audience? Or do you want to show your brand transparency with a Video QR Code? Why wait? Try one of our solutions and start using QR Codes in 2022 today. 

Robyn Albertyn

Robyn Albertyn is a content writer for Bitly from Cape Town, South Africa. She’s previously written about preventative health and wellness, and specializes in creative writing and copywriting. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her hiking up majestic mountains, or discovering the best coffee hotspots in her city. Feel free to say hi to her on LinkedIn.

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