WHY THE WEST SHOULD PAY ATTENTION
1. Points to where Facebook and other messaging apps could head.2. WeChat indicates where the future of mobile commerce may lie. 3. Third, WeChat shows what its like to be both a platform and a mobile portal (what
Yahoo could have been).
WeChat should matter to all of us because it shows whats possible when an entire country which currently has a smartphone penetration of 62% leapfrogs over the PC era directly to mobile. WeChat was not a product that started as a website and then was adapted for mobile, it was (to
paraphrase a certain movie) born into it, molded by it.
Connie Chan, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz
WeChat is by far the most popular messaging app in China. With over 650 million monthly active users the app has seen exponential growth in tier 1 and 2 cities over the past few years which have now steadied and almost reached saturation point. WeChat is the go to app for virtually everything, from shopping to banking, and media to marketing - they have successfully personalised and monetised a messaging app built on a strong user foundation. This presentation will highlight the three following key themes:
Source: Tech in Asia, Statista
The Great Firewall of China restricts many popular global sites such as Google, (all services including YouTube, Gmail) Twitter and Facebook encouraging home grown, state approved platforms, serving similar but very different equivalents to emerge.
WECHAT DOMINATES IN CHINA
In total there are over 650,000,000 active social networking users in China (over 10 times the population of the UK). The large majority of which are WeChat accounts. 93% of the population in tier 1 cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Shenzhen use WeChat.
CHINA IS YEARS AHEAD OF THE WEST IN SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY (ESP S-COMMERCE)
Social media is a small component of the overall marketing activity in the West; it is the backbone of any brand engagement in
WeChat has tailored its service to be culturally specific, it thrives on content creation, a more rather than lessinterface (going against the western sleek, simplistic design). It engages with the overlap between social media population and purchasing power.
It is a holistic mobile experience that brings brands and people together. Chinese businesses are moving away from websites and opting for WeChat accounts instead,people are able to engage in conversation with staff about their products, building a relationship on trust, and increasing their fan base as their friendship circle grows.
6 Apps 2 Apps
Average number of apps used in China
07:00 13:00 23:0009:00 11:00 15:00 17:00 19:00 21:00
Turn on phonecheck WeChat moments
On bus/underground to/from work2 articles and play 2 games
Pay for breakfast with WePay
Check work group messages
Tea breakCheck moments/send messages
Pay for lunch/split bill with lucky money
Shopping in app
Pay for groceries with WePay
Dual screening, chat/moments/games
TYPICAL WECHAT USERS DAY
HABITS AND BEHAVIOUR OF A TYPICAL USER
After a meal Before sleeping
Commuting Whilst working or studying
74% 73% 55% 51%
of all WeChat users use the app more than 30 times a day
ITS CORE FUNCTION IS MESSAGING
The messaging facility is full of creative functions: voice to chat, translate, stickers, photos, live sight, video, live location tracking, voice calls and more.
The moments feature allows users to post and also see the popular posts in their local group, similar to the newsfeed in Facebook.
BUT IT IS MUCH MORE THAN JUST A MESSAGING APP
Buy cinema tickets
Send/receive lucky money
Multiple persons video call
Merchants and Brands
Book a taxi
Customer service (brands interact with their fans)
Pay a restaurant bill
Mobile payment services in China are booming and is currently valued at 18.17 trillion yuan (1.88 trillion).
WePay and Alipay are the dominant services in China and banks are worried about the threats they may pose to the current outdated system.
WECHAT DRIVES MOBILE TRANSACTIONS
WeChat Wallet interface
AND USERS ARE ABLE TO WATCH TV IN-APP
As early as 2013 Tencent, the company that owns WeChat recognised that a large majority of their users were watching digital TV. In a partnership with Skyworth and CNTV, WeChat integrated a TV service which enabled users to pay for TV shows on their device, download them and then stream them directly to a standalone smart TV controlling the TV within the app itself.
HOW BRANDS USE WECHAT
Offering an exclusive experience for WeChat users, followers were able to view the Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014 show in 360, receive audio from the designers, photos and text messages from celebs, and also personalise digital versions of the pieces from the catwalk to save or share with friends later.
Celebrating Mothers Day, Olay teamed up with the taxi app (DidiDa Che) offering free skincare assessments at any of their retail counters. Customers would receive a free ride to the Olay counter by Didi Da Che.
On 20th May 2015 a campaign Transfer is message held by WeChat aimed to encourage more people to use the WePayfunction. Instead of sending a message to those you love using words, users were able to share lucky money. On that day alone RMB 400 million was transferred (over 42m).
TARGETTED ADS WITHIN WECHAT ARE A SIGN OF SOCIAL STATUS, BUT CAN SOMETIMES CREATE FRICTION
Targeted ads within WeChat have caused an uproar of discrimination as some users were shown a luxury car brand BMW, whilst others were shown mobile phones brands such as Vivo or even Coca-cola. One user said:
Ive been refreshing over and over again but still no BMW ad...today my spirits are in the dumps, do I not even qualify to see the BMW ads?
Some groups that received the luxury car ad declared themselves as the classiest, richest and better looking whilst others referred to themselves jokingly as Diao (losers).
WHY SHOULD THIS MATTER TO ME?
WeChat is a glimpse into how many western, traditionally unmonetizable, messaging platforms will perform and connect with consumers.
Brands currently on WeChat use the numerous functions at their disposal, using innovative ways to engage with their audience in a personal way (personalising conversations to consumers).
Western social media platforms are looking to and learning from their Asian counterparts.
What's happening in Asia is an inspiration  but that's more about proof of what's possible. It's proof that everything starts from a conversation.
Stan Chudnovsky, Head of Product Management for Messenger