WeChat QR codes (or quick response codes) are simple square images that can hold 100 times the amount of data as a barcode.
QR codes were invented back in 1994 but it wasn’t until 2010 – when smartphones were able to read them – that they really took off.
There’s nowhere they’ve been more successful than in China, where nearly two thirds of the population made use of them back in 2017 – and where they have become synonymous with the WeChat platform.
Why is the WeChat QR code scanner so popular?
Early on in the life of the QR code, WeChat created an inbuilt QR code scanner. This allowed users to easily scan and access QR code content. And it allowed brands to utilize a new, extremely user friendly marketing tool.
Nowadays, WeChat users can scan QR codes to add friends as well as to follow brands, celebrities and any other WeChat Official Accounts.
Users can make and receive payments using QR codes. And they can easily transition from offline to online interaction.
Just like WeChat, WeChat QR codes are a part of daily life in China and you won’t travel far without coming across one.
How to scan a QR code with WeChat
WeChat makes it really easy for users to scan QR codes through the platform. All it takes are a few clicks:
1. Find a QR code on a friend’s smartphone, a brand’s promotional poster or product packaging
2. On the WeChat home screen, click “Discover” (Yet to translate your WeChat app into English? Here’s our helpful guide)
3. Find and click “Scan” on the menu
4. Point your smartphone camera at the QR code
5. WeChat will automatically detect the code and direct you to the required page
3 tips for using WeChat QR codes for business
Get creative with WeChat QR code design
A standard black and white QR code does the job. But in a country where there’s a QR code wherever you look, it pays to make your brand’s QR code stand out from the crowd.
WeChat has been ever ahead of the curve, allowing users and brands to customize their QR codes within the app.
But the biggest and best brands enlist professional design help to create visually appealing QR codes that fit with their overall brand image. Check out these amazing examples.
WeChat QR codes also go beyond digital and print spaces. A shopping center in Korea created its own real life QR code using sculpture and shadows. And a Chinese village wanting to attract tourists created a QR code out of trees!
Think outside the box when it comes to WeChat QR code placement
The more places you put your brand’s WeChat QR code, the better your chances of it being seen and scanned. Consider the following options:
- Your brand website
- All social media channels
- Your email signature
- Store receipts
- Product packaging
- Promotional posters
- Promotional videos
These are pretty obvious places to start putting your WeChat QR codes. But – if you have the marketing budget – you can do so much more.
Take a look at Ralph Lauren’s QR code clothing labels, enabling customers to connect with the brand both pre and post purchase.
And then there’s this scannable QR code, created by drones above the skyline of Shanghai for video sharing brand, Bilibili. It seems the sky really is the limit when it comes to QR code placement in China.
Give people a reason to scan
Some WeChat users will be happy to scan your QR code because they already have an interest in your brand.
But how do you encourage scans from consumers you’re yet to convince?
You could offer exclusive content, easy payment, information related to a product, or special discounts.
Some stores in China allow visitors to scan a QR code in order to print a branded selfie. The printer brand – Welomo – also gets in on the act as every scan gets them a new WeChat account follower.
Starbucks is another brand that knows how to engage users with a QR code campaign.
The brand placed QR codes on cup sleeves. When users scanned the code they automatically added Starbucks as a friend on WeChat. But they also got to hear a song suited to their current mood as indicated by their choice of emoticon.
Incentivize people to scan your QR code and you’ll maximize traffic and engagement.
Case study: How Nike has used WeChat QR codes as part of its marketing campaigns
International brands working in China understand the importance of QR code marketing. Nike is just one of them, showing the rest of us how it’s done.
The brand has long used QR codes to direct WeChat users to its WeChat Official Account and website.
But the brand has a few other tricks up its sleeve too.
One campaign offered users the chance to customize their own pair of Nike shoes. They had to scan a QR code to follow the brand, and then pick from a selection of colorful images.
In response, Nike sent a personalized message, showing users a recommended pair of Nike shoes in their preferred color – and, of course, giving them an easy link to make a purchase.
At the annual Nike Sports Festival in Shanghai, the brand knocked it out of the park again.
Visitors to the festival could scan a QR code to begin a badge-collecting game they could play around the arena. Players could gather points, undertake secret missions and meet sports stars. With this campaign, Nike successfully engaged over 22,000 consumers throughout the festival.
Want help marketing in China?
For international brands, marketing your product to a Chinese market isn’t without its challenges. There’s a lot to learn about where and how to reach consumers across the many channels and platforms available.
QR codes are just one small part of the puzzle. Let the experienced team at AdChina.io help you put the rest of those pieces into place.
With in-depth knowledge of digital marketing in China, we help international brands launch localized and effective campaigns for the Chinese market.
Get in touch to find out exactly what AdChina.io can do for you and your brand.