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Social and Media Networks - China - May 2016

“China’s consumers are actively using social and media networks. To accurately reach target consumers, online interest communities can be effective market communication channels. Public accounts of opinion leaders may help brands to boost awareness, and offering promotions via public accounts may boost consumer engagement.”
– Terra Xu, Senior Research Analyst

This report examines the following areas:

  • Leveraging the power of opinion leaders
  • How can brands use their public accounts?
  • Marketing via online interest communities

Social and media networks have become an essential part of Chinese consumers’ daily lives. Key players such as QQ, WeChat, Qzone and Weibo continue to dominate the market, and their growth is expected to continue.

However, Chinese consumers are also willing to join online interest communities, where they can obtain information and interact with other people who share similar interests. Communicating via these online communities can be a better way to reach specific consumer groups.

Via public accounts, companies and brands can effectively boost their brand awareness, and offering promotions can drive engagement. They should offer trustworthy information about products or brands instead of simple advertisements, so as to enhance brands’ credibility.

Social and media networks primarily refer to platforms (websites or apps) for online social networking activities. Based on the end purposes and functionalities, these websites and apps can be split into two types of networks in this Report.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
        • Social networks
          • Media networks
            • Demographic groups
              • Social and media networks users
                • Household income
                  • Online interest communities
                    • Definition
                      • Examples of online interest communities about different topics
                      • Executive Summary

                          • The market
                            • Internet users in China increasing steadily
                              • Figure 1: Internet users and year-on-year growth in China, 2008-15
                            • The development of connectivity ensures the growth of social and media networks
                              • Live streaming shows potential for marketing communication
                                • Opportunities to communicate via online interest communities
                                  • Key players
                                    • Tencent and Sina continue to dominate the social and media networks
                                      • Figure 2: Monthly active users of QQ, Qzone, WeChat and Sina Weibo, December 2013-15
                                    • Baidu Tieba should be cautious so as to maintain credibility
                                      • Momo and Douban face a challenge to maintain users
                                        • Using social networks to reach out to wider consumer groups, and encourage consumers to be involved and interact
                                          • WeChat and Alipay carrying out innovative campaigns to boost user engagement
                                            • Social networks targeting niche communities
                                              • The consumer
                                                • Tencent continues to dominate, while Sina Weibo improves its user stickiness
                                                  • LinkedIn faces a challenge to develop unique characteristics
                                                    • Figure 3: Penetration of leading social and media networks, January 2016 and 2015
                                                  • Consumers are willing to join online interest communities, and shopping is the most popular type
                                                    • Figure 4: Penetration of online interest communities, January 2016
                                                  • Besides interacting with friends, shopping has become popular
                                                    • Social and media networks have become information sources
                                                      • Figure 5: Activities on social and media networks, January 2016
                                                    • Consumers’ preference for public accounts varies on WeChat and Weibo, while news is popular on both platforms
                                                      • Figure 6: Types of public accounts followed on WeChat and Weibo, January 2016
                                                    • Promotions can draw consumers’ attention, and consumers can help extend the influence of public accounts
                                                      • Figure 7: Activities via Weibo/WeChat public accounts, January 2016
                                                    • Promotions drive engagement for public accounts, and expert opinions are also important
                                                      • Consumers are open to advertisements posted by celebrities
                                                        • Figure 8: Attitudes towards public accounts, January 2016
                                                      • Advertisements via public accounts do not necessarily boost credibility
                                                        • Figure 9: Trustworthiness of recommended products on public accounts, January 2016
                                                      • What we think
                                                      • Issues and Insights

                                                        • Leveraging the power of opinion leaders
                                                          • The facts
                                                            • The implications
                                                              • How can brands use their public accounts?
                                                                • The facts
                                                                  • The implications
                                                                    • Marketing via online interest communities
                                                                      • The facts
                                                                        • The implications
                                                                        • Market Trends – What You Need to Know

                                                                          • Internet users in China are increasing steadily, and smartphones are the major devices to access social and media networks
                                                                            • Live streaming shows potential as a channel for marketing communication
                                                                              • Opportunities to communicate via online interest communities
                                                                              • Market Trends

                                                                                • Internet users in China increasing steadily
                                                                                  • Figure 10: Internet users and year-on-year growth in China, 2008-15
                                                                                • Smartphones are the major devices to access social networks
                                                                                  • Figure 11: Activities on digital products, December 2015
                                                                                • The development of connectivity ensures the growth of social and media networks
                                                                                  • Live streaming shows potential for marketing communication
                                                                                    • Opportunities to communicate via online interest communities
                                                                                    • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                                                      • Tencent continues to dominate the social networks
                                                                                        • Sina Weibo helps companies and brands to expand their influence
                                                                                          • Baidu Tieba sees fast growth, yet should be cautious so as to maintain credibility
                                                                                            • Momo faces a challenge of lapsing users
                                                                                              • Douban should maintain its uniqueness
                                                                                                • Integrating social/media networks and traditional leisure and entertainment activities
                                                                                                  • Popular apps carrying out innovative campaigns to boost user engagement
                                                                                                    • Social networks targeting niche communities
                                                                                                    • Key Players

                                                                                                      • Interest-related features and money transaction help to drive engagement for QQ
                                                                                                        • Figure 12: Monthly active users of QQ, December 2013-15
                                                                                                      • Qzone sees increase in terms of mobile device users
                                                                                                        • Figure 13: Monthly active users of Qzone, December 2013-15
                                                                                                      • WeChat enjoys continuous fast growth thanks to its development in online ecosystem
                                                                                                        • Figure 14: Monthly active users of WeChat, December 2013-15
                                                                                                      • Sina Weibo helps companies and brands to expand their influence
                                                                                                        • Figure 15: Monthly active users of Sina Weibo, December 2013-15
                                                                                                      • Baidu Tieba sees fast growth in 2015
                                                                                                        • Momo faces a challenge of lapsing users
                                                                                                          • Douban should maintain its uniqueness
                                                                                                          • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                                                            • Brands using social networks to reach out to wider consumer groups
                                                                                                              • More involvement, more interactions
                                                                                                                • Virtual reality TV shows
                                                                                                                  • Using bullet screen in market communications
                                                                                                                    • Innovation to boost user engagement
                                                                                                                      • WeChat Moments launched one-day-only Red Packet posts
                                                                                                                        • Collecting Lucky Cards on Alipay
                                                                                                                          • Social networks targeting niche communities
                                                                                                                            • Social mobile app targeting LGBT societies
                                                                                                                              • Hotline for strangers
                                                                                                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                • Tencent continues to dominate, and most of the consumers are heavy social and media network users
                                                                                                                                  • Consumers are willing to join online interest communities, and shopping is the most popular type
                                                                                                                                    • Besides interacting with friends, shopping becomes popular on social and media networks
                                                                                                                                      • Social and media networks have become information sources
                                                                                                                                        • Consumers’ preference for public accounts varies on WeChat and Weibo, while news is popular on both platforms
                                                                                                                                          • Public accounts help to drive awareness, and promotions can draw consumers’ attention
                                                                                                                                            • Consumers help to extend the influence of public accounts
                                                                                                                                              • Promotions drive engagement for public accounts, and expert opinions are also important
                                                                                                                                                • Advertisements via public accounts do not necessarily boost credibility
                                                                                                                                                  • Mintropolitans are more enthusiastic about online interest communities
                                                                                                                                                  • Usage of Social and Media Networks

                                                                                                                                                    • Tencent continues to dominate social and media networks
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 16: Penetration of leading social and media networks, January 2016 and 2015
                                                                                                                                                    • Douban faces a challenge to maintain user loyalty and attract new users
                                                                                                                                                      • Momo should make efforts to enhance the quality of communication
                                                                                                                                                        • LinkedIn faces the challenge to develop unique characteristics
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 17: Penetration of leading social and media networks (continued), January 2016 and 2015
                                                                                                                                                        • 97% of consumers are heavy social and media networks users
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 18: Heavy users of leading social and media networks, January 2016 and 2015
                                                                                                                                                        • Heavy user profile of leading social and media networks
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 19: Heavy users of leading social and media networks, by demographics, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                      • Penetration of Online Interest Communities

                                                                                                                                                        • Consumers are willing to join online interest communities
                                                                                                                                                          • Social networks about shopping are most appealing to consumers
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 20: Penetration of online interest communities, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                          • Consumers in their thirties are enthusiastic about online interest communities
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 21: User profile of online interest communities, by gender and age, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                          • Online interest communities attract more tier one city residents
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 22: User profile of online interest communities, by personal income and city tiers, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                        • Activities on Social and Media Networks

                                                                                                                                                          • Besides interacting with friends, shopping has become popular
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 23: Activities on social and media networks, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                          • Ecommerce on social and media networks can target tier two cities and consumers with mid household income
                                                                                                                                                            • Family-oriented products to communicate and distribute via social and media networks
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 24: Shopping online via social and media networks, by demographics, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                            • Consumers become used to transferring money via social and media networks
                                                                                                                                                              • Social and media networks have become information sources
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 25: Activities on social and media networks (continued), January 2016
                                                                                                                                                            • Types of Public Accounts Followed

                                                                                                                                                              • Public accounts about news earn high popularity on Weibo and WeChat
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 26: Types of public accounts followed on Weibo and WeChat, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                              • Public accounts about local information, finance and health/wellness as well as brands’ public accounts are popular on WeChat
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 27: Types of public accounts followed on WeChat, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                              • Besides news and celebrities, consumers’ preference for Weibo public accounts is scattered
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 28: Types of public accounts followed on Weibo, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                            • Activities via Public Accounts

                                                                                                                                                              • Promotions can draw consumers’ attention to public accounts
                                                                                                                                                                • Public accounts help to drive awareness
                                                                                                                                                                  • Consumers help to extend the influence of public accounts
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 29: Activities via Weibo/WeChat public accounts, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                                  • Public accounts attract followers to attend online rather than offline activities
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 30: Participation of online and offline activities, by demographics, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                                • Attitudes towards Public Accounts

                                                                                                                                                                  • Promotion can drive engagement of public accounts
                                                                                                                                                                    • Expert opinions are also important
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Attitudes towards public accounts, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                                    • Consumers are open to advertisements posted by celebrities
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 32: Attitudes towards celebrities’ public accounts, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                                    • Advertisements via public accounts do not necessarily boost credibility
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Trustworthiness of recommended products on public accounts, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                                  • Meet the Mintropolitans

                                                                                                                                                                    • Mintropolitans are heavier users of social and media networks
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 34: Heavy users of leading social and media networks, by consumer classification, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                                    • Mintropolitans are more enthusiastic about online interest communities
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Penetration of online interest communities, by consumer classification, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                                    • Mintropolitans are willing to join online discussions
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 36: Activities on social and media networks, by consumer classification, January 2016
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Methodology and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                                                                    • Methodology
                                                                                                                                                                      • Mintropolitans
                                                                                                                                                                        • Why Mintropolitans?
                                                                                                                                                                          • Who are they?
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 37: Demographic profile of Mintropolitans vs Non-Mintropolitans, by gender, age and personal income
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 38: Demographic profile of Mintropolitans vs Non-Mintropolitans, by marital status, city tier and education level
                                                                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations

                                                                                                                                                                          Companies Covered

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                                                                                                                                                                          Social and Media Networks - China - May 2016

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