The State of QR codes in 2023: Stats and Trends

Remember QR codes? Yeah, those fellas. Square, fuzzy, sci-fi things. By just scanning one, you can be transported magically straight to a "link broken" page. It's just like living in the future. 🚀🛰️

But actually, that's no longer the case. A certain infamous pandemic has propelled these little squares right back into public consciousness. So, how have businesses and consumers alike been reacting to their reintroduction? And how has it helped keep industries afloat these last few years?

The global QR Code Labels Market size is projected to reach $1268.1 million by 2026, from $916.7 million in 2020. And it doesn't seem to be slowing down. So, let's start by asking:


What Does the QR Landscape Look like in 2022?

  • 45% of responding shoppers from the United States stated they had used a marketing-related QR code in the three months leading up to the survey. The share was highest among respondents aged 18 to 29.
  • 46.75% agreed on an increase in QR Code usage
  • 96% growth in QR Code Reach
  • 94% surge in the number of interactions 
  • 98% increase in the number of interactions per object
  • This all adds to a 96% growth in total QR reach over the same 2018-2020 time period.
  • 1 billion smartphones will access QR codes by 2022. Given that smartphone ownership increased 42% from 2014 to 2019, we can extrapolate that same increase for QR code usage.
  • 11 Million households were forecast to have scanned a QR Code in 2020.

How Has Consumer Behaviour Changed?

  • Access to high-speed mobile internet increased from 48.8% in 2014 to 61.2% in 2018
  • Internet users have grown by 7.3% from Jan 2020 to Jan 2021
  • Most secure location for scanning the QR Code : 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 centre
  • It's estimated that by 2022, about 5.3 Billion coupon codes will be redeemed via QR Codes
  • 38.99% of respondents want to see QR Codes used more broadly in the future.
  • 57% scanned a food QR code to get specific information about the product
  • 67% of the respondents agreed that these codes make life easier

Do Consumers have Concerns?

  • 37% were aware that a QR code can download an application and only 22% were aware that a QR code can give away physical location
  • 49% stated they either do not have or don’t know if they have security installed on their mobile device
  • Two thirds of respondents felt confident that they could identify a malicious URL, but only 39% stated they could identify a malicious QR code
  • 48% have concerns about QR codes but use them anyway

Where are QR Codes Being Used?

  • Google Chrome is developing a QR Code enabled page sharing feature for its Chrome Canary.
  • Apple’s in-built QR Code scanner with the latest iOS 13 has a low-light QR Code scanning feature
  • South African based company 4ORT has launched the world’s first “fraud-free” dynamic QR Code. The globally patented algorithm ensures that the users’ unique identities are securely stored within the code, making it impossible for fraudsters to duplicate it.
  • Galleries and museums in Italy: Data shows that over 30% are providing QR codes while 40% are interested in providing one in the future.
  • Abu Dhabi had also integrated QR codes on signage
  • 91% of users of iOS devices have built-in QR code scanners
  • Half of the restaurants in the US now offer QR codes as well. 

What Was the Impact of the Pandemic?

  • It was found that 59% of respondents believed that QR codes would be a permanent part of using their mobile phone in the future.
  • 80% of order, checkout, and payment services will become contactless by 2024
  • According to McKinsey & Company,  there is an 80/20 rise in digital payments. That means the digital user base has seen a 20% increase, where 80% has been registered during the peak of Covid-19.
  • 18.8% of users in the US and the UK strongly agreed that there was a visible increase in QR Code usage since the onset of COVID-19.
  • Due to COVID-19, 83% of respondents stated that they used a QR code to make a payment (or complete a financial transaction) for the first time ever.
  • Consumers used QR codes more frequently for practical things like visiting a doctor’s office or picking up a prescription – with an increase from 9% in 2020 to 14% in 2021.
  • Offices and places of work saw an increase in usage going from 11% to 14% emphasizing the shift in how QR codes have been used during the pandemic
  • 39% of consumers are relying on their phones more due to social distancing

How Does Usage Vary Across Demographics? 

  • The people are actually scanning QR Codes, what age groups do they fall under? Well, they're predominantly between 24 to 54 years of age.
  • 16% of male respondents used their smartphones to scan QR codes to obtain information, while only 10% of female respondents stated they had done the same. 
  • 24% of Millennials and 18% of Gen Xers prefer to scan a QR Code to redeem an offer.

How Does Usage Vary Across the Globe?

  • In the UK and Europe 86.66% of smartphone users had scanned a QR Code at least once in their lifetime. 36.40 % scan at least one QR Code a week.
  • The term QR Code was searched 60,000 times in Australia in 2021.
  • In Brazil and Europe, QR Code usage is 7% and 8% of consumers, respectively, scanning QR Codes several times a week.
  • Chinese payment app, Alipay, is the world’s most used payment app in the world apart from social networking apps. 15 million SMB accept Alipay’s QR Code payments in China
  • In China, 50% of users scan QR Codes several times a week.
  • 65% of consumers in China think QR codes on packaging instils trust.
  • 40% of global QR code coupon redemption comes from the Far East and China.
  • In Brazil, 75% of shoppers are ready to scan QR Codes on a regular basis to access shopping assistance
  • 25% of Irish adults scan a QR code more than once per quarter
  • 57% of Canadian respondents scanned a food QR code to get specific information about the product
  • The United States alone has 1 million+ restaurants. 52% of them have already switched to QR code menus and the others are catching up.

This post is part of our Martech stats series, which compiles key data and trends. Others include: