According to a Statista forecast, this year alone China will have 615.5 million social network users. By 2022, there is projected to be 725 million. Interestingly, the biggest jump happens from the end of 2018 to 2019 where projections estimate a growth of 50 million users, the largest in the seven-year projection.
So what are the reasons for this giant surge in social media users for the country? Looking at reports and trends there are many but four stand out for this leap in Chinese social media users; wider smartphone adoption, ageing population adaption, transition from TV and growth of eSports and other live-streaming apps.
It is no secret China has a love affair with the smartphone
China it’s a global leader in e-commence and this trend is attributed to the growing use of the device. However, Internet penetration in China is at just 57% as opposed to the U.K.’s 95% according to Internet World Stats. There is room for this number to grow and for those without Internet access a smartphone is increasingly their first point of entry.
In 2015, it was reported that China would be investing an estimated 140 billion Yuan or $22 billion to expand Internet access to remote and underserved areas of the country. By 2019, the effects of this will have been felt and China’s growing Internet population will be even bigger.
While China’s young consumers, Millennials and members of Generation Z, are touted for their web suaveness their parents and grandparents are also becoming more connected. Technology moves fast and it may have taken a while but China’s elderly population of more than 230 million are a growing segment that are using social media.
WeChat, China’s most popular social messaging app has almost become essential in the country as its functions continue to expand from messaging to paying for groceries through mobile payments. The Chinese government has even started funding programs to educate their aging population on using smartphones and apps. The government isn’t the only ones who have taken notice and new apps are now targeting this group as well, who wish to chat with their families and old friends.
Next year marks the first that people around the world will spend more time online than watching TV. Measurement company Zenith says in 2019 the average person will spend 170.6 minutes online as opposed to 170.3 minutes watching TV. These online activities include watching videos, sharing photos and shopping on social media. As these actives continue to rise in popularity globally TV has waned and it shows the way people get their entertainment is changing.
This shift in entertainment can be observed in China were the eSports scene and social live streaming services are on the rise. The eSports market in China is worth billions and the country’s biggest company Tencent has committing $15 billion over the next years. Along with the increasing number of tournaments and games come fans that wish to connect on social platforms. Speaking of social media, live streaming is another area of growth that has connected with China’s younger population. As these two areas continue to see rapid growth so too will China’s population of social network users.
Next year if the numbers, trends and reports are right we will see China’s social media users grow by a staggering 50 million. This might be the biggest growth in this area for any observable year. The chief reasons for this are the continued adoption of smartphones especially by the elderly and a change in the global entertainment landscape that can be felt most acutely in China. These factors will change the lives of millions and are areas that PingPong Digital researches as we continue to develop winning marketing strategies in China.