Compared to markets worldwide, China is superbly advanced in terms of mobile adoption. According to eMarketer, 7 in 10 of new internet users in China log on with smartphones; only fewer than half of them accessed the web with a desktop PC.
Close to 90% of internet users in China will go online via mobile
China’s mobile penetration is high and rapidly growing as well. According to eMarketer’s estimates, China’s internet user population will grow 3.8% to reach 700.1 million this year – making 2016 the first year when over 50% of China’s population will go online at least monthly. The mobile phone internet population is expected to grow even more quickly, rising by 5% in 2016 to 618.7 million—meaning 88.4% of all internet users in China will go online via mobile phone this year.
The Omnipresent WeChat app
When it comes to the Chinese social media, everyone immediately thinks of WeChat. As China’s leading social media app, the Tencent-owned app enjoyed a user reach of 650 million monthly average users (MAU) as of Q3 2015, showing a YoY growth of 39%. With its multi-function capabilities including the WeChat Wallet (e-payment service), it has already go way beyond an instant messaging tool. With WeChat, you can theoretically go by your day without a penny in your pocket: from ordering a pizza or hailing a taxi, to booking a flight or giving out red packets as tokens of congratulations.
A case study: BMW’s WeChat campaign in China
With Chinese users relying heavily on WeChat for their daily consumptions, the level of data at Tencent’s disposal is incredibly vast, which allows for actionable consumer insights and more robust targeting options for advertisers, as well as deeper and more relevant advertising experiences for users on the other hand.
The key difference versus the west, is that Chinese consumers actually welcome targeted advertising. According to Shanghaiist, last year BMW ran a WeChat ad campaign and caused uproar when some consumers did not receiving the BMW ad they’re interested in as they weren’t perceived to be in the right target market. This can indeed be avoided by a precise data-driven audience buying approach. If used correctly, advertisers can indeed leverage the data available to reach a willing and responsive audience beyond their pre-set primary target audience groups. Further to this, there are over 100 million users of WeChat outside China, which is an exciting and interesting opportunity in itself.
Promoting your brand in mainland China and beyond: A data-driven approach is essential
As we can see, mobile and social – going hand in hand – is king in China. If you have plans to tap this lucrative market, mobile and social are the integral components in your marketing mix, yet this is not enough. The market is huge – China is the world’s biggest country in terms of population, so whilst only half are internet users, this number is still bigger than the total populations of the US and Brazil combined – yet complex with a fragmented digital marketplace, hence we must also adopt the following component in your marketing mix if you want to precisely reach the right audience in China – a data-driven and tech-driven approach.
To sum up, in order to enter the China market, it is imperative to understand the nuances. It is very different to the western markets from landscape, to audience and channel. This is the most important thing to understand, if you don’t, then you face a very difficult task in conquering world’s biggest and most exciting market.
Darren Jacobs, Head of Europe iCLICK INTERACTIVE Asia