Mary Meeker, a former Wall Street securities analyst and venture capitalist, released her annual Internet report highlighting the trends dominating global digital media. Her analysis of China’s Internet trends is something that all investors look forward to since it identifies key trends defining one of the world’s biggest internet markets.
Short videos and livestreaming
Short-form videos seem to be quite the rage in China. Users in the country spent around 600 million hours per day on these types of videos just in April 2019. Short-form video platforms are leading in user and usage growth in all app categories. Popular platforms include Douyin (known internationally as Tik Tok), Haokan, and Kuaishou. Buoyed with success, Douyin announced plans to enter the traditional long-form video market last year. It reportedly signed up leading film and TV producers.
The growing popularity of livestreaming has forced many online companies to integrate the option into their platforms. Social media platform Mogu, a fashion e-commerce firm, credits 24 percent of its Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) to livestreaming. Online shopping firm Taobao earned over US$14 billion livestreaming on their website.
Online grocery websites in China are adopting a wide range of business models to service customers. In the U.S., websites either partner with retailers to fulfill customer orders or maintain large warehouses to ship goods directly. In China, there is a third business model in which the online retailers partner with local stores and allow users to make group purchases through apps like WeChat. Xingsheng Youxuan, Dailubo, and Songshu Pinpin are examples of Chinese online grocery stores that follow this method of delivery.
China is also witnessing the rise of “Super Apps,” which refers to apps that provide a wide range of services instead of only one. The most popular super app is offered by Meituan Dianping and includes over 30 services, like hotel bookings, purchasing movie tickets, travel booking, restaurant reviews, food delivery, and so on. However, the bulk of the app’s revenue comes from restaurant-related services.
Alipay, which started out as an online payment service, now allows users to manage healthcare, investments, insurance, etc. More than 70 percent of its billion-plus users are estimated to use at least three financial services in the app. The growing popularity of super apps has triggered other international companies like Uber, Rappi, and Grab to add more services to their offerings.
In China, gamification is making a huge impact. “Jump Jump,” a mini-program from WeChat, is allowing brands to engage with their users better. The game racked up over 100 million users in just two weeks of its introduction. Alipay has gamified ecological activism where users are able to earn green points for completing tasks that reduce carbon emissions.
Every time a person chooses to use public transport, they earn points that can be redeemed later on. E-commerce platform Pinduoduo gamified a referral system by allowing users to earn discounts on products by referring friends who can also enjoy the discounts once they play a game.
China has an estimated 800 million Internet users, accounting for 21 percent of the total global Internet user base. Data usage grew by 189 percent year-over-year in 2018. As China consolidates its strong position in the international market, its Internet preferences are also expected to impact global trends.