5 Online Trends in China: The Fast-Paced Life in Mainland


What was once known as the world’s manufacturing hub was transformed into a global leader in innovation and technology. Here are the online trends in China.

What was once known as the world’s manufacturing hub was transformed into a global leader in innovation and technology.

There are a lot of developments in various sectors in China, that I, as an expat who lived and traveled from one city to another a few years ago, was amazed of what it has become these days.

Four things still stand out that changed the habits of citizens: e-commerce, social media, mobile payments, and automation (including AI).

READ MORE >>> How Does O2O (Online-to-Offline) Work in China?

Who would have thought that this social app called Weixin or WeChat in 2013 will be the all-in-one app, which centralizes all online transactions in just a few years?

As of this writing, WeChat has reached more than reached 1 billion monthly active users.

Let’s take a look at the online trends as of Q4 2022 in China. I hope these insights will spur more ideas on how you can engage with your audience.

1. E-commerce is the biggest industry but also expanding overseas

Local technology companies such as Alibaba and JD.com are spurring the growth of this industry. Hence, the online retail market, according to Forrester, is expected to hit USD $1.8 trillion in 2025.

As China is known as a world leader in e-commerce, its influence in e-commerce is also moving beyond borders where there was an increase of 36% CAGR on APAC e-commerce-related real estate investments due to the e-commerce boom and Alibaba’s vision to bring e-commerce overseas, carrying its technology.

JD.com, on the other hand, tapped Google and Walmart to build a global e-commerce empire.

2. Mobile payments are moving to the next level in almost any type of transaction

China’s advanced mobile payment solutions will amaze any tourist visiting the country for a few days.

Where Alipay and WeChat Pay allows residents to pay via QR code scan, whether buying a cup of coffee, a freshly prepared street food, jianbing, or settle bills, it is shaping the online marketing activities of global companies as well.

They need to see consider how to catch up with payment methods to make shopping and online payment efficient.

Tencent Holdings recently partnered with China UnionPay and its subsidiary UnionPay International to allow users to settle bills for their purchases on the mainland even in Hong Kong dollars using the HK version of WeChat Pay.

Such progress in mobile payments provides more opportunities for cross-border transactions. Chinese tourists can also use the WeChat Pay to pay US retailers using a module called Travelex Pay within the app for seamless payments without credit cards.

3. Mini-programs in WeChat making global brands creative in strategies

Nike is embracing digital transformation to woo young customers with WeChat mini-programs. The online-and-offline integration (O2) is taking the retailing experience to the next level where the members can pre-book services.

Inside the new cross-category store, also known as the “House of Innovation” in Shanghai, is a mobile-checkout and one-on-one sports expert sessions where members can try on sportswear and customized products based on their needs.

The mini-programs also feature a customer relationship (CRM) center that allows global luxury brands to recruit new members, track the status of the subscribers, and offer other perks to encourage shopping. Michael Kors, for example, the American luxury brand has this handwritten message from the designer himself, which is more personalized, inviting customers to become part of the family.

4. Influencer-fatigue is real, but a more personal approach does the trick

Global brands are also taking advantage of China’s influencer boom, capitalizing on their multitudes of followers as a way to promote their products and services.

And while tapping these key influencers on social media, it has also created a serious problem resulting into what Jing Daily wrote, “consumer fatigue.”

Consumers are also discerning these days that they also experience frustration as their feeds are taken over with almost products and commodities that generic influencers are promoting. The articles published through business accounts on WeChat have an average of less than 5% open rate—a reminder for global brands to more real and engaging instead of relying on their brand ambassadors.

5. Video content consumption continuously increases

Tencent Video is the leading over-the-top (OTT) video market in China. While iQiyi and Youku remain its rivals, there’s a continuous surge of subscribers on all these platforms. It means Chinese netizens are inclined to watch more video content.

According to eMarketer, “24.0% of digital video viewers in China will subscribe to Tencent Video in 2022, and that figure will surpass 29% by 2025.”

There are more than 500 million monthly users in Youku and more than 800 million videos are viewed every day. Global brands have the opportunity to promote via various ad spaces on the video platform or even a banner during or before the video starts.

Meipai, another video platform, that caters the young consumers, is known for the short videos. Young people love it because of its live stream feature. Some influencers are using it as well to share their routines or present the latest products they have.

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