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The Year of QR Codes

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Why 2020 is the year of QR codes

Sneh Ratna Choudhary
November 7, 2020

With the novel coronavirus wreaking havoc, touch-free powered solutions with QR Codes have come to our rescue. QR Codes, once believed to be a long-dead relic of the early 2000s, have found a new life in the wake of the pandemic, kickstarting a touchless world. 

If you’re on the lookout for a QR Code solution, here is a guide to choosing the best QR Code Generator.

China has used QR Codes as a way to filter visitors at checkpoints. Singapore is using QR Codes to ensure contactless visitor entry and to facilitate community-driven contact tracing. 

WhatsApp, Google Chrome, and Instagram threw their hats into the QR Code ring making it even more popular amongst audiences of all sizes elevating the social media experience via touchless technology. 

Across the globe, QR Codes are being used in contactless delivery, contactless pickup, and most importantly contactless payments.

Given the increase in demand for a safe way to keep consumers engaged, the QR Code market is expected to see a massive surge.

A brief history:

Invented 2 decades ago, QR codes never became the revolutionary marketing strategy that businesses and marketers had hoped. 

2017’s iOS 11 update changed that. Apple’s stealth update that allows QR codes to be scanned directly through the camera app is game-changing. Adding the QR code feature on the control setting was pure genius. Even the latest Android smartphones have made QR code scanning a native feature

Why 2019 is the year of QR codes

Table of Contents

  1. How to scan QR Codes on Android/iPhone
  2. QR Code alternatives in 2020
  3. How popular are QR Codes in 2020?
  4. Are QR Codes dead in 2020?
  5. Here’s why QR Codes are still relevant in 2020
  6. The QR Code usage market in 2020

Scanning QR codes on Android/iPhones does not require an app

 QR codes in 2020 with Beaconstac

Easy step-wise guide to scan QR codes on iPhones, iPads, Android phones and desktop

Not only have QR codes managed to overcome the hurdle of downloading an additional app but the average Internet speed has also increased to 5.6 Mbps which allows consumers to scan QR codes at lightning speed. By 2020, high-speed internet will be accessible to 90% of the global population.

QR codes have undeniably gotten a new lease of life and brands have taken notice. Porsche, Instagram, Taco Bell, L’Oreal have all dabbled in QR codes and seen impressive results.

QR Code Alternatives in 2020

While QR codes are extremely widespread, you may still want to consider some alternatives to the technology for various reasons. Here are some of the best QR code alternatives in 2020 –

NFC technology: Just like QR codes. NFC tags do not require an app to read. iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR can natively read third-party NFC tags. Older models of iPhone need an app. Most Android phones can also natively read an NFC tag.

Here’s the complete list of phones compatible with NFC

Beacon technology: Beacons are the best way to deliver a fantastic native app experience. Once you come into the range of a beacon, the beacon is able to trigger a notification to your smartphone and wake up your beacon-aware app.

Learn more about beacons and how it is used for experiential shopping

Geofencing: This app-based solution has been used by companies like Burger King and Sephora to send relevant notifications to customers when they are in the vicinity of their stores.

How does geofencing work? What is a geofence?

QR Codes can also be used as a stepping stone for app-based solutions. An App Download QR code can be used to encourage users to download the beacon or geofencing powered app.

QR codes can be used to get customers to download apps, initiate customer service, access WiFi networks without a password, and purchase products and the list is endless. This explains why 11 million US households are expected to scan QR codes by 2020.

Check out powerful QR code marketing campaigns in 2020

QR codes can also increase post-purchase engagement by allowing customers to re-order the product or link to a video tutorial on how to use the product effectively. QR codes can also act as effective lead magnets by getting consumers to sign up for loyalty plans or subscribing to the newsletter or getting valuable feedback.

Make your customized QR code now!

Are QR codes dead in 2020?

Absolutely not. 

QR codes are ubiquitous in China. In an attempt to penetrate the smartphone market in China, the iOS 11 update inadvertently also opened up new avenues for global markets. Inspired by China, South Korea has also witnessed a staggering increase in the number of QR codes scans. India and markets in the US have also adopted QR codes to make payments and make shopping a seamless experience.

And it doesn’t end there. Alipay’s partnership with digital wallets in Europe will also bring QR Code payments to the continent. Ghana, Russia, Sri Lanka have also announced a QR code payment technology which will be rolled out soon.

QR Codes For Marketing in 2020: Everything you need to know

Here’s why QR codes are still relevant in 2020 –

Digital menu QR Code for restaurants for a touch-free experience 

Restaurants using QR Code menus for a touchfree, safe experience

The COVID-19 pandemic has propagated a safe, touch-free dining experience to limit contact from one another to curb the spread of the virus. 

With several health organizations and CRA encouraging restaurants switching to disposable menus, QR Code menus are the perfect alternative. Disposable menus are not cost-effective, harsh on the environment, and time-consuming.

Digital menu QR Codes can be incorporated onto the tabletops of any restaurant or eatery so customers can simply scan the QR Code to view the menu, place their order, and enjoy their food promoting a safe touchless experience. 

Some of the most popular eating joints that have switched to digital menu QR Codes are KFC, McDonald’s, and Curry Up. 

Scanning QR codes is second nature for consumers

Scan QR codes in 2020 to like Facebook Pages

The popularity of QR codes can also be attributed to increased consumer awareness. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram have all come up with QR codes that allow users to follow accounts by scanning the code.

QR codes at the store to curate an experiential shopping experience

QR Code at Nike's NYC Store

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QR codes can be used at the store level to give shoppers experiential choices. Nike’s Flagship store called House of Innovation 000 uses QR codes all throughout the store to give Nike Plus Members with the Nike app a truly unique experience. Nike Plus Unlocks upon entering a store rewards members. The flagship store also has ‘Scan to Try’ wherein members can scan mannequins and have store assistants bring them the right size and color to the fitting rooms. If consumers don’t have the Nike app, they can also scan the QR codes on the walls to download the Nike app.

Nike Instant Checkout also uses codes to allow members to skip the long checkout line and checkout from the Nike App. These Instant Checkout stations are positioned throughout the store.

QR codes on packaging are crucial in 2020

QR code 2020 food packaging scan

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According to research by The Paper Worker, 1/3rd of consumer decision-making is purely based on a product’s packaging. Creating packaging that is appealing is even harder when you factor in millennials that always steer towards aesthetically pleasing and minimalistic design. QR codes are the answer to this struggle.

Since GMO products in the US require QR codes on the packaging that consumers can scan to learn more about the ingredients, it’s become a common practice to have QR codes on all products.

QR Codes on Product Packaging

2020’s QR codes are better, colorful and attractive

2020 QR codes are better and colorful

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Gone are the days of black and white QR codes. QR codes can now be customized with logos, colors, and different shapes to attract consumers. This is very useful in that it allows consumers to know exactly what they’re scanning as well.

Businesses don’t need to keep swapping out QR codes to display different offers either. Static QR codes have given way to dynamic QR codes which explains why QR codes have been cropping up on digital billboards.

Do you need a dynamic QR Code Generator? Find out.

QR codes breathe new life into traditional marketing

Digital marketing gained traction for one very important reason: Tracking performance metrics. Something that was impossible with traditional forms of marketing. But, with QR codes, marketers can finally understand which marketing campaigns are performing well based on the number of scans.

QR Code Marketing: QR Code use cases for proximity marketing in 2020

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.

Read Inkit’s guidelines for QR Codes here

QR codes are extremely cost-effective and easy to deploy

QR codes in 2019: Digital QR codes

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The cost of running a traditional marketing campaign can be quite steep without having any measurable results. That is why proximity marketing solutions such as NFC, beacons, and QR Codes have gained so much popularity. Not only are they cost-effective, but they are also extremely easy to deploy.

You can use Beaconstac’s QR code generator and add a logo to create your QR codes. Once you are done customizing it, you can either download it or embed it on your site. It’s easy. It’s free and there are unlimited scans. To track analytics and fine-tune campaigns in real-time, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial.

These Beaconstac’s QR code platform features will increase your ROI in 2020

QR Codes can be used to deliver an AR experience

In April of 2020, Puma launched its LQD CELL Origin AR shoes. These shoes are covered in QR codes. When you scan the QR Codes using the Puma app, you can witness incredibly cool effects. You can make your LQD CELL explode, play games within the app and score points to get on the leaderboard.

IKEA’s direct mailers also include a QR code so that users can view the object in their space through the app.

If you have a marker, you can simply 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.

Jon Cheney, Founder and CEO of Seek, has built Seek to be a cross-platform solution for web-based AR. You should read his guide for e-commerce businesses that want to get started with AR.

QR Codes for healthcare

Science and technology in healthcare is rapidly evolving. It isn’t very surprising if QR Codes were incorporated.

In 2020, QR Codes will be one of the biggest contributors to healthcare. Several hospitals have already deployed 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.

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.

By using dynamic QR Codes, details of any car can be updated regularly, depending on the need and demand of the market.

QR Codes are being implemented for shoppable marketing campaigns 

Burger King QR Codes


With QR Codes gaining maximum popularity, major brands are incorporating them into their marketing campaigns to cater to their audience with interactive shoppable advertisements. 

Burger King’s popular TV commercial advertising campaign during the pandemic included QR Codes, which could be scanned by users. 

The QR Code Whopper giveaway consisted of three TV commercials showing a scannable floating QR Code around the TV screen. Upon scanning the QR Code, users were directed to a webpage offering coupons for a free Whopper by purchasing through its app.  

Recently, for the MTV Video Music Awards 2020, Burger King upped its marketing campaign by introducing augmented reality through its QR Code TV campaign. The fast-food giant asked its users to scan the QR Code to activate the AR experience. 

Burger King AR Codes


The experience featured AR versions of the burger chains mascot and rapper Lil Yachty who appeared together on the red carpet. 

QR Codes become popular on social media

Instagram QR Codes


Snapchat and Facebook QR Codes have always been popular with their innovative and interactive QR Codes. Now, Instagram has joined the bandwagon too. 

Instagram is bringing QR Codes to the app. 

Previously called Nametag, Instagram has amplified the QR Codes boundaries. Users can now generate QR Codes that can be scanned from any smartphone. Users can also print their QR Codes to share so users can scan them to be directed to open their Instagram account easily. 

The pandemic has witnessed several giants embrace the QR Code technology, including Instagram.

The QR code usage market in 2020

The QR code market is on a steep rise. According to Juniper Research, by 2022, 5.3 billion QR code coupons will be redeemed by smartphones and 1 billion smartphones will access QR codes.

Marketers can take a two-pronged approach to maximize their ROI with QR codes. One at a store level to display general offers or to leverage national holidays and the other at a product level to create interactive products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do QR Codes expire?

QR Codes do not expire. If the information linked to the QR Code is outdated, the website or landing page will not show the content. If a static QR Code expires, it won’t work – meaning, it won’t direct you to a landing webpage, basically stalling the purpose of the QR Code. 

Dynamic QR Codes also 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 2020?

QR Codes are in more places than one can anticipate such as movie tickets, plane tickets, official documents, social media channels (Nametags and SnapCodes), and payment systems. 

QR Codes were never out of the market to make a comeback, but they are having a rather powerful imprint on all kinds of businesses. 

Do people use QR Codes in 2020?

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. Not just that, QR Codes are 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 2020?

A huge chunk of businesses and brands of all sizes are moving towards a technology-enabled market, 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 research by 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. One of the key areas the QR Code technology will focus on is in-app usage and scanning ability. Other areas of growth are contactless payment system, transit and travel industry, healthcare, and marketing.

Do millennials use QR Codes?

Millennials, in fact, do use QR Codes. They use QR Codes a lot more than any other generation combined or individually. 

Some of the ways millennials use QR Codes are – 

  1. Facebook Messenger Codes and Market QR Codes
  2. SnapChat’s SnapCodes
  3. Instagram’s Nametags
  4. WeChat
  5. Contactless Payment Systems – PayPal, Walmart, and Venmo

How many possible QR Codes exist?

There are different kinds of QR Codes that exists. Some of them are –

  1. Model 1 QR Code
  2. Micro QR Code
  3. IQR Code
  4. SQRC
  5. Frame QR
  6. HCC2D
  7. JAB 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. Although barcodes and QR Codes both store information, QR Codes have more advantages over barcodes –

  1. QR Code can hold any information within the square code. It can be used to link to a text, business card, multimedia, social media channels, and marketing campaigns.
  2. QR Code can hold up to 7,089 characters allowing it to be more versatile than a barcode.
  3. QR Codes resist damage. QR Codes can go through wear-and-tear and the agenda of the QR Code can be changed if dynamic QR Codes are used.
  4. QR Codes can support multimedia content – video, audio, and even AR and VR.

Barcodes do not support any of the mentioned attributes. Thus, QR Codes will not be replaced by barcodes.


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