QR-codes: the Chinese consumers’ everyday life

“We are scanning the QR-code or on the way to scan it”. If you walk around the streets of China, you can find QR-codes everywhere. It’s on the vendor’s stand, on the bus, on the bicycle, in the magazines. Chinese are obsessed with QR-codes. Nowadays, 700M people, which is over 90% of the global QR-code users, are in China[1]. Scanning code is not just a tool but part of their daily life.



QR-code has become more and more popular in China along with WeChat, China’s most popular messaging application which has 900 million active users[2]. WeChat, which promotes QR-code as its main feature, has a built-in QR-code scanner. It enables people to add friends by scanning QR-codes rather than typing. After getting the initial success, WeChat soon started to allow people to pay their bills by scanning QR-codes and thus attracts more and more users. As the number of WeChat users are booming, the usage of QR-codes expands into every corner of China. A lot of new business models relevant to QR-code has been created.


QR-codes, part of the shopping experience

The QR-code shopping experience originated from The No. 1 Shop, www.yhd.com, which enables you to pay the bill by scanning the generated QR-code after you decided on what to order on their website[3]. Now, there are even QR-code shopping walls in some big Chinese cities. Many Chinese supermarkets place the catalog of selected products on a QR-code wall in the metro station, and then the consumers can take a look at the wall when they’re waiting for the train. After deciding on which product to buy, they can easily use their mobile phones and scan the codes to place the order. If you are home and running out of rice, noodles, oil or shower gel, scan the QR-code printed on the package of the product, and you will be able to find out what the promotion price is and where to buy it.



Get discounts with QR-codes

Wide usage of QR-codes is for electronic discount shopping cards. For example, the merchant sends their electronic discount shopping card to your mobile phone for promotion. To benefit from the discount, you have to show the cashier your shipping card with the QR-code when you’re paying [4]. In July 2017, Hainan banana farmers cooperated with Taobao in this way to promote their bananas online when the number of bananas oversupplied [5]. They sent out a lot of E-promotion cards, and this attracted many consumers to place an order on bananas online, and the power of QR-codes successfully resolved the banana crisis.


Trace your food from QR-codes

As the information of the food production and logistics are uploaded to the internet by producers, consumers can trace the whole production process with a single QR-code scan. In Qingdao, Liqun Group has put QR-codes on the package of every meat and vegetable they sell. The customer can scan the QR-codes, and get information on how the food was produced, ingredients,  and other information related to food safety [4].

QR-codes have not only changed the way how people exchange their contacts but also plays a significant part throughout the production and purchase processes of a product. As for the development of technology in China, more and more possibility can be anticipated.


[1].    《全球九成二维码个人用户在中国 缺乏规范安全堪忧》http://www.xinhuanet.com/fortune/2017-03/28/c_1120711589.htm

[2].    《马化腾:微信月活跃用户突破10亿》http://www.sohu.com/a/224906368_116600

[3].    《二维码遍地开花 1号店引领风潮》http://www.techweb.com.cn/news/2012-04-19/1181309.shtml

[4].    《二维码在商业的九大用途》https://www.sohu.com/a/193122082_100011418

[5].    《团购助海南蕉农解“蕉急” 25吨香蕉通过二维码出售》http://news.163.com/11/0707/14/78C9F9QT00014AEE.html


Rasmus Gregersen