It’s Chinese New Year today and to celebrate we’ve taken a look at five trends in the Chinese digital industry. So join us, and say 新年快乐! 恭喜发财!
Mirroring the western search giant Google, 2014 saw Baidu take more steps into the wearable tech industry. 2013 saw Baidu launch the Codoon wristband – developed by Codoon (a Chinese startup) and powered by Baidu Cloud.
2014 saw the unveiling of Baidu Eye – a wearable headset similar to Google Glass. Although at the prototype stage, only time will tell if Baidu Eye becomes mainstream or goes the way of Google Glass.
In April 2013, CNet reported that by the end of 2014 over 19 million wearable devices will be shipped globally – a tripling of the amount shipped in 2013.
Smartphones grow and grow
Carrying on from the wearable tech trend we have also seen an uptake in smartphone numbers. In particular, Xiaomi (a local smartphone brand) and Apple have made inroads into Samsung’s market share.
Xiaomi grew to a 12.5% market share (taking over Samsung’s 12.1%), and up significantly from its 5.3% the year before.
Apple saw its market growth from 7.4% in Q4 2013 to 12.3% in Q4 2014 – a 99.7% growth year-on-year.
Overall, this has a seen a surge in app usage. Approximately 80% of all mobile phone users in China now use a smartphone. This is higher than the UK smartphone penetration of 71%. China has always been a very mobile-focused market with netbooks thriving in the country.
As such, apps have become an important battleground for companies and Baidu’s Cloud service and app projects are testament to this. There was a 70% increase in Apple App Store downloads in Q1 year-on-year from 2013 in China and now ranks behind US as the largest App Store market. Apps have become an important battleground for companies.
The Great Firewall stands stoic
The Great Firewall – the colloquial name given to China’s Golden Shield (the strict firewall limiting access to non-Chinese websites) – got serious. Cranking down on several western search engines, in theory, it is now impossible to access Google and DuckDuckGo from inside China.
Several social networks are already blocked, but in 2014 they were joined by everyone’s favourite image sharing social network, Instagram.
Dropbox fell out of favour in June 2014 and, in October, the BBC website was also blocked.
Late night user habits
WPP’s China Consumption Trends 2014 report highlights the importance for meeting the requirements of your local needs.
In the report, WPP highlights that the Chinese market strongly favours late night activities, including online activity. As such, Chinese companies have started to actively promote campaigns at night when they know their audience is highly active.
UK trends also show similar user behaviour. Social media (and vis-a-vis smartphones) usage peaks in the evening and whilst people are in bed.
The traditional digital marketing notion that you should target your audience during the day is already out-dated and you should be fully aware of when your audience is most active.
China, along with many other Asian countries, have embraced the humble QR code in a way that the UK and other countries have never.
Advertising Age highlights several reasons for the rise in popularity of QR codes including: a mobile-ready user base and several popular apps and websites using them to engage directly with customers.
But this isn’t just a local marketing trend. Western brands with a presence in China have embraced the square to engage China’s mobile-savvy masses.
A particular highlight is Alipay’s QR campaign that allows people to send money virtually via a QR code to loved ones during Chinese New Year. In Chinese New Year it is customary to give red envelops with money inside as a gift to young people.
So there we have it – five trends in China’s digital sphere that highlight despite a general homogenisation thanks to globalisation, there are still real differences to consider.
Celebrating Chinese New Year in London?
If you're celebrating Chinese New Year in London, we've created a handy guide to help you discover where to go. (Click the infographic to enlarge the image.)
Have a fantastic day and happy Chinese New Year!