QR Codes are a common sight now. Thanks to the increase in global smartphone penetration. It skyrocketed from 3.2 billion in 2016 and is estimated to be at 6.8 billion in 2023. This would translate to an annual increase of 4.2%.
Another favorable factor has been the increase in access to high-speed internet. In 2022, the number of unique mobile users stood at 5 billion. This meant over 60% of global Internet users used mobile to access the internet.
As of January 2023, this increased to 5.16 billion users globally, which is 64.4% of the world’s population.
These factors have led to the massive adoption of QR Codes. Hence, from product packaging to the walls of buildings, QR Codes are everywhere.
We earlier showed you if people use QR Codes or not. From this, it is clearly evident that the use of QR Codes is soaring day by day. However, you might think—what is the QR Code usage in exact numbers? What are the actual QR Code statistics?
Here is a short video to give you a snapshot of QR Code statistics:
If you’re reading this, you know that publically available statistics on QR Code usage are very low. However, here is a compiled exhaustive list of data points available via research reports and databases.
QR Code Statistics—Global and the US
Of the total participants from Germany, a good 29% had used a QR Code. This number was 28% for France, and 26% for the UK and the US.
Hence, we can safely say that in general, 25-30% of populations in developed nations use QR Codes. And this was back in 2014. The usage has massively changed since then.
In 2019, Global Web Index conducted a study. This study showed the Global percentage of QR Code users. They were as follows:
- 8% in North America
- 13% in Latin America
- 15% in the Asia Pacific
- 10% in Europe and Middle East Asia
According to a recent survey by Statista, in the US alone, an estimated 11 Million households were forecast to have scanned a QR Code in 2020. This would have meant an increase from an estimated 9.76 Million scans in 2018.
Here is a graph showing that more and more households are scanning QR Codes in the USA each year:
And this was the scenario before COVID hit the world. The pandemic has opened doors to massive success for touchless technologies. As per a report by Gartner, 80% of the order, checkout, and payment services will become contactless by 2024.
In 2021, 75.8 million smartphone users in the US scanned a QR Code on their mobile. These numbers were up by 15.3 percent compared to 2020.
The usage of mobile QR Code scanners is projected to experience constant growth. It’s expected to reach about 99.5 million in the U.S. by 2025.
In case you’re wondering what are QR Codes being used for, we have some answers. A survey was conducted in June 2021 among shoppers in the US. 45% respondents said to have used a QR Code to access promotional offers.
In addition, Juniper Research predicted QR Code payments in the US to rise by 240% from 2020 to 2025.
These numbers have increased much more amidst the pandemic. 27.95% of US consumers agree strongly agree that QR Code usage has increased after the pandemic.
In addition, 85% of adults in the United States use a smartphone. Hence, the appeal of using QR Codes in small, medium, and large businesses is going to be the game changer in new-age marketing.
US and UK
In September 2020, Statista conducted a survey. It was about the increase in QR Code usage since shelter-in-place.
The survey included participants from both the US and UK. Among the respondents, 46.75% agreed on an increase in QR Code usage.
Another survey was conducted in the same month with the respondents from the two regions. It enquired them about the most secure location for scanning the QR Code.
A good 42.55 % felt most secure at a restaurant, bar, or café. On the other hand, 19.4 % felt the same level of assurance at a gym, pool, or any other fitness center.
Hence there is a huge potential for US marketers who are considering adding a QR Code to their print media campaigns. (Also see how Latin America is using QR Codes.)
In September 2020, Statista conducted a survey with Russian participants. It was to gauge their support for various measures taken to tackle the coronavirus. According to it, 64% supported the introduction of the system with passes, QR Codes, and other similar movements within the system.
It’s interesting to note that payments were the most frequent QR Code use case in 2021 in apparel stores. It made up ~27% of the total share. Furthermore, about 8% of all QR Code payments happened at insurance companies.
These numbers only indicate that people are now more aware of QR Codes than ever. And not just that, they’re even willing to use them for day to day activities.
This clearly indicates that the Russians have not only become more receptive to QR Codes but are supporting them too. This throws the doors open for the adoption of QR Codes for a wide array of use cases in the country.
Middle East and Africa
Digital payments in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) grew at an annual rate of over 9% between 2014 and 2019. This was higher than Europe’s average annual growth of 4% to 5%.
In September 2020, the MobileIron poll conducted a survey. The survey included consumers across Germany, the U.K, Netherlands Spain, and France. Among the respondents, over half of the respondents (54%) agreed to have seen the increase of QR Codes. This was since the pandemic began.
A recent survey by Statista shows that 90% of participants used a QR Code in the last month. 69% were also open to using QR Codes for future payments. It indicates that QR Code payments are on the brink of breaking into the mainstream post-pandemic.
A new study by market research firm Appinio says that 75% of consumers have scanned a QR Code on FMCG products. 87% of respondents favor policies that ensure product-specific information conveyed digitally is truthful and accurate.
This data shows the growing momentum of QR Codes in Europe.
The surge in QR Code Usage
According to Bluebite, the following surge in QR Code usage was reported from 2018 to 2020:
- 96% growth in QR Code Reach
- 94% surge in the number of interactions
- 98% increase in the number of interactions per object
This data clearly conveys an increase in QR Code usage over the years.
Here are a couple of more research that show the latest QR Code usage:
FMI: The QR Code labels market is projected to reach $2.1 billion by 2027. This means growth at a CAGR of 8.9%.
Juniper Research has predicted that the number of users doing QR Code will exceed 2.2 billion in 2025. This would be an increase from 1.5 billion in 2020. It translates to 29% of all mobile phone users across the world in 2025.
In fact, global spend via QR Code payments will reach over USD 3 trillion by 2025. This indicates an increase of 25% compared to 2022 (USD 2.4 trillion in 2022).
QR Code use cases and usage distribution by age group
You might think—for which purpose do people use QR Codes? And the answer is—many. One of the most popular use cases is—payments. And another such use case is—offering discount coupons via print promotions.
In 2017, people redeemed about 1.7 Billion coupons via QR Codes.
And in 2018, an estimated 3.27 Million households obtained a coupon via a QR Code.
This QR Code usage has increased continuously since then. The coupon redemption using QR Codes has quadrupled from 1.3 billion in 2017 to 5.3 billion in 2019.
Here are other ways you can use QR Codes for marketing, education, security, etc.
If you’re a marketer, you know how important it is to know your target audience. So you might think—while many people are actually scanning QR Codes, what age groups do they fall under?
And the answer to this question is—predominantly between 24 to 54 years of age.
According to a 2015 study by Scanlife, here is the distribution of global QR Code scanning audience by age:
The age group with the highest percentage of people scanning QR Codes was 34-44 years.
Again note that this was in 2015. Since then apps—popular with the younger generation—such as Snapchat, Pinterest, and WeChat—have added QR Code scanning features. This shows that this age distribution in 2018 is likely to shift towards the younger generation.
Statista published a report in June 2021. As per it, 45% of shoppers from the US had used a marketing-related QR Code. The data revealed the highest share was from the age group of 18 to 29.
59% of respondents said that QR Codes shall be permanent in mobile usage in the future.
Juniper Research also published some statistics in 2022. They predicted QR Code coupon redemption via mobile devices to quadruple to 5.3 billion in 2022 from 1.3 billion in 2021. It will grow even more in 2023. Great, right?
QR Code Usage in Payments—China, India, Global
WeChat—which is quite popular in China—made the nation obsessed with QR Codes in the last few years. The Chinese scan QR Codes to make payments, get information, authenticate themselves, avail offers, and practically every other use case.
According to CNN Tech, USD 1.65 Trillion in transactions happened via QR Codes in China in 2016.
Also, according to a 2015 survey by TNS Infratest and Google, the Chinese also lead in the percentage of people who have scanned a QR Code while shopping:
According to a study from 2018, 70% of China’s population regularly uses QR Codes for payments. This is a huge number.
And it’s worth mentioning that the contactless payment market is expected to hit $4.68 Trillion by 2027. It means an expansion at a CAGR of 19.8% from 2020 to 2027.
As per Tencent’s 2020 Pandemic report, for the first quarter itself, the economy from WeChat QR Codes shot up by 25.86% regardless of the tough macroenvironment.
Thanks to popular social media platforms in China! The QR Codes payments now account for over 90% of China’s mobile payments. This includes payment for food, clothing, housing, entertainment, education, etc.
A survey by China UnionPay, commercial banks, and other payment entities reveals interesting stats:
- 98% of respondents consider mobile payment as the most commonly used payment option
- People who scanned the QR Code was 85%, up by 6 points from 2019
- Chinese people use mobile payments 3 times a day on average, which rose 11 percent from 2019
In another update, citizens prefer gifting money via QR Codes instead of giving physical gifts.
In India as well, there has been a surge of QR Code transactions since the demonetization initiative by the Indian Government in Nov 2016. Paytm—one of the biggest payments platforms—had 6 Million merchants by the beginning of 2018. The company aimed to increase this to 10 Million by the first half of 2018. This was as reported by First Post.
As of October 2021, the usage of the Bharat QR Code grew above 4.5 million in India. Over 9 million merchants in India now accept QR Code payments.
Bharat QR Code aims to standardize QR Code payments across merchant outlets in India. Different payment networks collaborate with the National Payment Corporation of India to promote this.
A study further claims that the value of QR Code payments will rise from $62 billion in 2022 to $125 billion in 2026. This growth will be the result of the national QR Code standard and reduced cash usage.
Globally, 4% of all consumer transactions are via QR Codes. This is according to a survey by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Visa Inc., and GfK.
This recent increase in awareness of QR Codes via payment transactions will allow consumers to interact with QR Codes for other purposes as well—getting information, availing an offer, registering for an event, etc.
For example—street artists are now using QR Codes to get tips. Though highly talented, street artists are underpaid. So a lot of them now include QR Codes in their artwork such as graffiti that links to their cryptocurrency wallet.
According to estimates, by 2025, 29% percent of global mobile users will use QR Code payments. And the global QR Code transaction value will be about USD 2.7 trillion.
These QR Code statistics act as a testimony to the fact that QR Code scanning has not just become rigorously rampant but is also rapidly growing. People are more receptive to QR Codes than ever before. Thanks to high-speed internet, smartphone penetration, and the COVID.
Global spending through QR Code payments will reach $3.3 trillion in 2026.
Impact of COVID-19 on digital payments
Covid-19 has even fueled Asia’s future in digital payment. According to McKinsey & Company, there is an 80/20 rise in digital payments. That means the digital user base will see a 20% increase, where 80% has been registered during the peak of Covid-19. This might remain for the long term even post-pandemic.
And not just Asia, the UK, and Europe are embracing QR Codes more than ever. Mobileiron conducted a survey across the UK and Europe to check the audience’s reliance on QR Coes. It reported that 86.66% of smartphone users had scanned a QR Code at least once in their lifetime. And 36.40 % scan at least one QR Code a week.
In addition to this, 46.81% of respondents agreed that QR codes make life easier in a touchless world. But that’s not where it ends. A good 38.99% of respondents want to see QR Codes used more broadly in the future.
This is how QR Codes are shifting the paradigm of digitization in the UK too.
Here are some more interesting numbers on QR Code statistics:
- Gartner: COVID-19 has accelerated contactless commerce. 80% of payments and checkout services will be contactless by 2024
- Statista: 18.8% of US consumers believe there has been a rise in QR Codes usage after the pandemic.
- CNBC: QR Code downloads have increased by 750% since the pandemic hit the world
QR Code usage in other industries
QR Codes are the new norm in the restaurant business. From contactless menus to payments, QR Codes are doing it all.
In fact, according to the latest Restaurant Readiness Index report, 33% of the restaurant owners have accepted that QR Codes have enhanced their business.
From ordering food to checkout, QR Codes have covered it all. In short, it is optimizing the end-to-end experience for both customers and businesses.
Case Study by OrderUp: QR Code payments indicates growth of 240% by 2025. 63% of operators plan on investing in this type of technology in 2023.
Datasential: 58% of consumers would like the option of using a QR Code to pay at a restaurant. Among consumers who have used QR Codes to order and pay, 70% of them said that they had a positive experience.
43% of millennials and Gen-Z diners prefer contactless payment options when dining out. (2022 Future Restaurant Trend Report)
53% of millennials want to use mobile devices to augment their dining experience. Restaurants that fail to attract Millennials and Gen-Zers by not implementing a digital-driven strategy may see these generations’ retention rates drop by 43% or more. (Tacit)
82% of consumers view contactless as the cleaner way to pay, and contactless payments are up to 10 times faster than other in-person methods. This enables customers to get in and out of restaurants faster, turning tables faster. (MasterCard)
52% of all restaurants in the US have implemented QR Code menus. (Restaurant.org)
33% of restaurant owners using QR Codes have enhanced their business.
The Uruguay government, for example, has made it mandatory for high-street restaurants to place QR Codes on their premises. (Restaurant.org)
2. Food packaging
You probably have seen QR Codes on food and beverage packaging. They help to provide complete information, suggest recipes, or even show the entire product range.
Statista conducted a study in Canada in September 2016. It was about the usage of scanned food QR codes among consumers. 57% of users had scanned a food QR Code to get specific information about the product. And 43% had scanned a food QR Code to visit the brand’s website.
Moreover, 34% of the Canadian consumers scanned a food QR Code to get information about the product or company and to enter a contest.
The global smart packaging market, valued at $22 billion in 2020, will reach $38 billion by 2030. This exhibits a CAGR of 5.5% (Allied Market Research)
QR Codes have been at the forefront of smart packaging. The QR Code packaging market, valued at $5.3 billion in 2019. Indications suggest CAGR of 8% in the coming years (Packaging Insights)
57% of consumers have scanned a QR Code on food packaging to get more information (Statista).
43% of consumers said they’d scanned a QR Code on product packaging to visit a brand’s website. 34% scanned a QR Code to learn about the company or enter a contest, 25% did it to get a recipe, and 9% scanned a QR Code to play a game (Statista).
65% of Chinese consumers consider QR Codes on product packaging essential for building trust. (Packaging Insights)
3. Augmented reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is an integration of real-time information such as images, videos, and text with real-world objects. It aims to make the user experience interactive and fun.
And QR Codes make it easier to access. In fact, many brands are already using it to their advantage. As per an estimate, the AR market will be worth between USD 70 billion and USD 75 billion by 2023.
Moreover, according to the Snap Consumer AR Global Report 2021, the adoption rate of AR has increased rapidly. According to estimates, by 2025, 75% of the total global population will become frequent users of AR. The report also highlights that there has been a 94% increase in customer conversion rates thanks to the AR on products.
Since QR Codes help with easy access to AR, they are more likely to be used on a mass scale by businesses. You’d be enthused to know that AR and VR market is projected to grow by USD 162.71 billion by 2025.
COVID derived adoption of QR Codes
The pandemic has led many businesses and governments to adopt QR Codes for many unique use cases. Here are some of them:
- Carlsberg, a multinational brewer, has added QR Codes to various touchpoints. They can be scanned by the customers to gain points, accept event invitations, or even find details about a product
- In New South Wales, Australia, the government made it compulsory to use the QR Codes in shops, and cafes for contact tracing.
- The American giants such as Walmart, Starbucks, and Decathlon are using QR Codes for payments and loyalty accounts. Similarly, Nike, Home Depot, and Diesel are using them for marketing. On the other hand, Coca-Cola and Zara are trying to explore more use cases of QR Codes for their business
- Restaurants across the world have replaced their paper-based menus with Menu QR Codes. Guests can simply scan them to access the menu digitally on their phone
- China has recently mandated using QR Codes for health and travel. They’re in fact enforcing it to turn into a global mechanism
Here’s a report on more than 20 QR Code-related trends that the world has seen ever since the pandemic. Some of the hottest use cases of QR Codes is in NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) and gamification technology.
QR Code usage since COVID-19 pandemic
QR Codes have been around for more than 26 years now. And various industries had started embracing them for varied use cases before COVID emerged.
However, the pandemic has given a huge blow to QR Code usage. That’s because they are being used to make a lot of processes contactless and safer.
Here’s a graphical representation of search volume for QR Codes as per Google Trends:
Source: Google Trends
The statistics clearly show that people’s interest in QR Codes looks pretty promising.
The increase in people’s interest in QR Codes is due to their enormous utilities, especially amidst the pandemic. For example, ensuring social distancing and contactless arrangements. Here are some examples of various use cases that saw a surge:
Restaurant Menu QR Code
Source: Google Trends
The trend illustrates that the audience’s interest in Restaurant Menu QR Code has gained rapid momentum from the second quarter of the year 2020.
This has been due to the rapid adoption of QR Codes into the restaurant business. After all, QR Codes help offer contactless experiences to their guests.
A poll by National Restaurant Association says that 58% of adults are likely to use phones to access a menu.
Gen Z was the most open to technology. 68% of members say they’ve used a QR Code to access the menu in a restaurant.
In fact, Millennials are supportive of technology too. 78% of them like using Menu QR Codes (Datassential). On the other hand, 51% of respondents from Gen X too are comfortable with QR Code menus.
The adoption of QR Codes is particularly appealing to Generation Z and Millennial customers. 56% of them view it as a positive development in the industry.
The search volume of ‘Menu QR Code’ itself is a whopping 555,000,000. This only means a good market size with tremendous opportunities to tap into.
Hotel QR Code
Source: Google Trends
The graph above shows that the ‘Hotel QR Code’ has always been audience’s interest. Moreover, there has been a rapid increase in the audience’s interest in the “Hotel QR Code” since the second quarter of 2021.
This has been due to the use of QR Codes to ensure utmost safety in the hotel premises during the pandemic. From helping guests access the menu and avail room services easily to collecting their feedback, QR Codes are helping them do it all.
Health QR Code
Source: Google Trends
As you can see, Health QR Code has picked up a stark increase since 2021.
This again indicates an elevated interest among people. And do you know what? Well, they are helping store patient information, maintaining drug and equipment safety, and ensuring product authenticity.
Vaccine QR Code
Source: Google Trends
As you can see the search volume of the Vaccine QR Code has increased rapidly since the third quarter of 2021.
Since almost everyone around is concerned about the virus, getting a vaccine has become important. And various governments and private institutions are using QR Codes to relay the vaccine information and reports to the public.
Thus, by looking at this data, you can see that there has been a significant increase in QR Code usage and awareness since the pandemic. For more such QR Code Campaign ideas you can download a free e-book and understand the future of QR Code Technology as per Industry experts.
Hence, if you’re a marketer planning to run a print campaign globally or even locally, add a QR Code. Your target audience will surely scan it since QR Code usage is expected to soar further in the future.
The team of QR Code experts at Scanova compiled this report.
Do you want to create QR Codes for your print media campaigns? You must look for a QR Code generator that best suits your needs.
Scanova is an easy-to-use QR Code Generator that helps marketers create, design, manage, and track QR Codes for operational and promotional use cases. Founded in 2013, the company has helped over 100,000+ businesses and marketers create QR Codes, including Amazon, Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, Intel, 7-Eleven, Aon Hewitt, and Levis.