Why WeChat is The Most Powerful Platform For Marketing To The Chinese Community

Do you use Facebook? 

As one of the most prevalent social media in the world, it’s probably easier to count who doesn’t use Facebook.

It is no surprise that Facebook ads is one of the strongest weapons that marketers use with excellent ROI for many businesses.

I’ll even throw in the rest like Google Adwords, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, all strong platforms that when done right can give you excellent ROI.

But I won’t be talking about any of these platforms here today.

You see, there is a hidden goliath out there that is mostly unknown to the Western countries that is calmly but confidently dominating

On the surface, it’s easy to underestimate this app as just another messaging app as the interface seems looks just like any other chat app out there right now. The interesting part is, even if you go to the app’s website, they don’t really say very much about how powerful their app is.

This app is called WeChat (known as Weixin in China). As of Q3 of 2016, (according to Statista) there are around 864 million of active users around the world (predominantly in China)

In the Western countries, those who have heard of WeChat think it is just like Whatsapp, a messaging tool.

In reality, WeChat’s innovative and technological advancement is now making the

Western equivalent platforms seem embarrassingly inferior.

In fact, according to the Forbes reports, the vice president of Facebook Messenger David Marcus “has openly expressed his envy for WeChat, calling it simply ‘inspiring’. He plans to transform Facebook Inc.’s messaging service ‘into a platform where people can communicate with businesses and buy things”.

It is interesting that China, the country known for their notorious ability and shamelessness to create knock-offs and copycats, is now the birthplace one of the top innovative tech company where other competitors are now trying following their lead.

So what’s so special about WeChat…?

Can you imagine taking all the goliaths of the technology world and rolling them all into one SINGLE app?

That’s Facebook, Instagram, Paypal, Craigslist, ApplePay, Tinder (yes, even Tinder), and many more services amalgamated together on its own seamless ecosystem, easily accessible on a single platform.

WeChat has evolved to what it is today in just 5 short years due to China’s tough policies on foreign companies entering their country, many globally popular apps from the West have been blocked out of China and hence the need to create their own version of the apps to get similar services.

While the creation of WeChat by Tencent was born out of necessity, the company has since grown into a social media giant of its own. It is occupied by daily users who has integrated the app fully into their lifestyle to the point where they never need to leave and toggle to another app, since everything they need to do is already there.

Here are just a small example of things you can do through the app: You can

  • Get a taxi
  • Send money to your friends
  • Make online purchases through WeChat stores
  • Manage your banking accounts
  • Get a date
  • Make video calls
  • Hire someone to cook you a meal or clean your house
  • Book a hotel
  • Pay for lunch, and the list goes on…all with just a few taps on WeChat.

It is no wonder that according to WeChat, the average use time is AT LEAST a whopping 90 minutes per day. To put that into perspective, that’s 10.5 hours per week, boasting usage from day to night with multiple contact points throughout the day. For most people that means other than sleep and work, being on that app just might be the third in line as one of the top habits in their life.

Check out this video on what a day in life is like with WeChat:

With the type of volume and usage that WeChat supports and adding to that, the Chinese cultural acceptance of daily advertisement bombardments from a variety of businesses as being the norm, it is no surprise that WeChat is the ultimate dream platform for many marketers.

Luxury brands and businesses selling premium products and services can no longer be competitive appealing only to local consumers. If your business targets high end consumers and you are not already on WeChat, very likely your competitors are and they have been quietly taking your best prospects from you without you even knowing.

Luxury Daily as indicated that a third of Chinese travelers plan to travel more in the coming year, and a whopping 92% plan to maintain or increase spending in the same timeframe.

Through a survey done by Bain and Company, “The survey reveals that nearly 80 percent of respondents said they normally get information on luxury brands from the internet or apps, and a full 60 percent identified social media channels Weibo and WeChat as their online source for information on luxury goods. As a result, brands spend, on average, 35 percent of their marketing budget on digital, and it is growing.”

How WeChat revolutionized Mobile e-Commerce

For mobile e-commerce businesses, this massive growth in mobile usages and the ease of online payment means making purchases is convenient as ever. The simplicity of the entire mobile buying experience without having to be be behind a computer means users can essentially be making purchases anywhere, at any time of day with minimal locational restrictions.

While the Western economies are still striving to make a cashless economy mainstream and viable, the Chinese has already forged ahead long ago and now living with this convenience for both buyers and sellers.

WeChat’s Cross Border Payment (WeChatPay), opens up a whole new untapped market for many businesses outside of China. With many major currencies accepted (e.g. USD, CAD, JPY, GBP, HKD, AUD…etc.), when users in China makes a payment in CNY, the local currency of the business will be converted into CNY based on real-time rate. This makes the shopping experience seamless and borderless.

You may also be interested that according to the Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study by Bain & Company,

“Chinese consumers play a primary role in the growth of luxury spending worldwide. They account for the largest portion of global purchases (31%), followed by Americans (24%) and Europeans (18%). Chinese shoppers continue to spend far more abroad than in Mainland China, which accounts for only 20% of their global purchases…”

For those businesses that are mainly focused on offline transactions (e.g. real estate, automobile, restaurants, etc.), WeChat has also furthered mobilize the “online to offline” (also known as o2o) movement.

Essentially, as the name implies, the o2o concept involves taking online users to somewhere in the the real physical world.

A great example of a business using WeChat for o2o is coffee giant Starbucks. Recognizing the power of WeChat’s platform, they partnered together to integrate a new feature that will seamlessly allow customers in China to instantly and conveniently gift Starbucks to friends and family. This will allow Starbucks customers to use WeChat to buy the gifts through WePay, and then sending the gift receivers to the stores to redeem them.

To conclude, we can certainly look forward to more exciting launches from WeChat as they continue to lead the way with more innovative features, as more users continue to adopt the app around the world.

Author – Victoria Mui

Chief Marketing Strategist / B2B Sales Expert