Happy New Year! We hope you managed some rest and 2022 has started off well. We thought a fitting topic to see in the new year is with a trusty old friend, WeChat. WeChat hasn’t been in the limelight over the past few years; partially due to the shiny new short video apps such as Douyin and Kuaishou, and because WeChat hasn’t seen any major evolutions since 2017 when mini programs were launched.
Yet despite its lack of new features, questionable security and Beijing’s crackdown on tech companies, WeChat continues to grow and retain the title of China’s – and perhaps the world’s – only true super app. Much of this growth is attributable to mini programs, which continue to be an increasingly important component of marketing strategies in China.
Last year, 450 million Chinese consumers were active every day on WeChat mini programs, 50 million more than in 2020. The frequency of use increased over 30%. More impressively, the number of users paying for things through mini programs soared 80% last year. Although Tencent hasn’t yet announced the value of transactions through mini programs, they noted it had increased “significantly” from 2020’s ¥1.6 trillion ($250 billion). Since 2019, transaction volume has surged 897%, helped by the 100 million transactions capitalising on the “Use-now, Pay-later” option last year.
Livestream commerce sales – like on many platforms – are making their mark on WeChat, growing 15-fold last year. Viewer numbers, although not quite the volumes of Taobao, aren’t to be sneezed at with 27 million tuning into the well-marketed Westlife concert and 15 million watching Meng Wanzhou return to China after her release from house arrest in Canada.
Although many brands are shifting their marketing focus and budget towards short video apps, WeChat should still remain a key pillar within strategies, particularly mini programs. Many foreign brands have already jumped on board, with the number of overseas merchants selling on mini programs jumping 268% over the past two years. But many still stubbornly insist on pushing their own apps. The appeal and simplicity of using mini programs rather than having to download another app shouldn’t be underestimated.
By nature, WeChat stores are stickier than traditional ecommerce platforms, allowing much stronger loyalty and customer relationship marketing. There is also less price sensitivity versus the seamless comparison of prices on ecommerce. To further enhance WeChat, the platform can now link with Taobao/Tmall, Douyin and other apps as a result of the government’s crackdown on tech giants. This finally allows integration between key marketing touch points and allows plenty of new, smarter initiatives between acquisition and loyalty programs.
These new developments should see brands take a fresh look at their marketing strategies in 2022, particularly with regard to WeChat and how it relates to other touch points, online and offline. Get in touch with China Skinny to learn how we can ensure your plans are optimised for the year ahead.
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