This past summer, I studied abroad in China, and let me tell you that place is like a completely different world. I thought people and companies in the U.S. were technologically savvy and ahead of the times when it comes to the latest and greatest ideas, but that was before I got to experience, first hand, the grasp is has on the Chinese.
There is one single app that rules the whole country. The name is WeChat. It is a combined hybrid of GroupMe, What’s App, Apple Pay, Venmo, and any other news outlet. This app has completely taken over the country in ways I’ve never seen an app do here in the U.S. Out of the hundreds of thousands of iPhones I saw, not one person was using the imessage feature or even the default messaging app on the phone. They were all using WeChat, either messaging or the speak to message feature.
Not only was this app a controlling force in the communication I had to my friends and coworkers, it also has caused a drastic increase in the number of stores, restaurants, vendors and even vending machines who have turned completely cash free. The Chinese are all about convenience. It’s all about what can they do to cut out time from the in- between actions to get to where they need to be faster. Using WeChat, customers and vendors can simply scan a QR code that is linked to their bank account to pay for anything on the go.
This isn’t the only use of QR codes in the app, though. People’s WeChat accounts are linked with an individualized QR code that can be scanned when they want to add a new contact, or someone wants to add them. Numerous restaurants have resulted to paperless menus, and instead, they leave the QR code that is linked to their website and menu for people to view and even order directly from.
The uses of WeChat and QR codes even ventured into the marketing and advertising world as companies wouldn’t even bother printing a colorful poster to hang around the city. The would make massive posters with specialized QR codes that people who were interested could scan on their WeChat app, and that would direct them to this even bigger, digitally advanced advertisement. Mainly, people who were interested enough to scan the code were more or less likely to be within the company’s target audience, and if not, they got one more viewer to their website than before.
Although I have seen more QR codes popping up here and there in the U.S., they are nowhere near as popular and utilized as what I saw in China. The company that created WeChat knew exactly when and how to break into the ever evolving, ever fast- paced, culture. I think this use of technology is a great and useful idea for companies wanting to “go green” or even get a broader reach to a broader audience. This advancement in QR code use has the potential to be the next huge wave in online and digital marketing.