Chris Reed
Feb 4, 2015

Why do QR codes work in China and not in Singapore?

On a recent trip to China I was amazed by the amount of QR codes I saw. Why have they taken off in China and not in the West or even in Singapore? Simple answer, mobile.

Why do QR codes work in China and not in Singapore?

China is a mobile-first country. The West and even Singapore is a laptop/PC-first country. This to me explains why QR codes are everywhere in China. From shop windows to business cards, buses to trains, on packs to posters.

My favourite one in Shanghai was on the way to the airport on the freeway in the middle of a giant poster 100m up. Exactly how was I supposed to scan that at 100 kph on a freeway?

The other reason why QR codes work in China is WeChat. WeChat, the equivalent of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all in one social platform now has a QR code scanner integrated into its app.

This makes it easy for brands to engage consumers and get them to scan in the QR code and be taken directly to the WeChat page of that brand. This is also easy for the consumer to engage and be taken straight through to the brands platform, no hassle, no website links, just scan and you’re there.

So why doesn’t this work in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia let alone the West? No equivalent to WeChat? Well there’s Facebook for those who use it but I don’t see a QR code reader being integrated with them in quite the same way also I am not sure that the demographic and mindset is the same.

Westerners and PC-first consumers tend not to wish to be bothered with scanning the QR code in then clicking on the link to go to the website.

It may also not help that many QR codes are communicated in ways that do not help such on the top of tall buildings or on escalators or fast-moving vehicles. It’s almost like the infamous newspaper advert which said “click here”.

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