While the reception to QR codes has been tepid in the U.S. and E.U., they are thriving in Asia. Diners in China can buy McDonald’s and KFC with QR codes; South Korea’s Tesco has used the technology to set up virtual supermarkets in subway stations. Yet global brands across the region lag behind local retailers in integrating the technology into websites and apps, according to L2’s Intelligence Report: Localization.

While every major Korean department store integrates QR codes into its mobile app, only 7% of global brands present in the country do the same. Similarly, while 43% of Japanese department store websites feature QR codes, this is true for only 18% of global brand sites.

Mobile Features Integrated with Global Index Brand and Local Department Store Sites

More brands have implemented the codes in China, although local department stores still command a sizeable lead. Given that China, Japan, and South Korea have some of the world’s highest shares of mobile commerce, brands that fail to employ QR codes are missing out on a significant opportunity. Estee Lauder is one of the few global brands in the region integrating QR codes into its mobile strategy. A QR code on the brand’s Japanese site links to a photo-taking app where users can virtually test out Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Foundation – a use of the QR code that encourages social media sharing as well as purchase.


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