So much to learn from the rise of WeChat in China

New Game, New Rules

WeChat – if you are not aware – is one of the world’s largest and exciting social network and communication platforms, with a trifling 963 million plus users (Statista 2017).Tencent, which has WeChat in its extensive media portfolio, is now the 10th largest publicly traded company in the world and the biggest in Asia (Hamil, 2017) – and recorded an astounding 48% revenue growth in one year – to RMB 151.9 billion ($21.9 billion) in fiscal year 2016 (Techcrunch, 2017). This goliath is winning the war for eye-balls in China.As we marvel about the rapid growth of the most innovative social media platforms in western society – Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, just to name a few – WeChat has revolutionised functionality breadth and rapid acceptance in China, and for Chinese people worldwide.Through Wechat, Tencent has leapfrogged the best efforts of FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google), to take the lead in global FinTech and ecommerce innovation. The catalyst has been an accepting and trusting Chinese public, that has whole-heartedly embraced rapid technological change.Consider these facts:Functionality breadth

  • WeChat has a tightly woven selection of services that touches a wide gamut of daily needs – including communication, entertainment, finance, personal health and more. It can be used to pay for food in the street, book a taxi, purchase movie tickets, pay utility bills or find and schedule a doctor’s appointment – all in a single, integrated app.
  • In only four years, WeChat “now functions as text messenger, Facebook, Reddit, Skype, IRC chatroom, Meetup, and Instagram – all rolled into one” (TechinAsia, 2016)
  • Western social media players have lacked the confidence and vision to go for the gold standard, and embrace social commerce that is all-encompassing and intrinsically simple and easy.

Chinese willingness to purchase onlineIn 1999, Jakob Nielsen, a Danish thought leader on usability and web design, articulated the role of trust as a core tenet of digital marketing and particularly ecommerce. He said: that websites needed to communicate trustworthiness via design quality, up-front disclosure, comprehensive and current content, and connection to the rest of the web (Harley, 2016). Almost two decades on, Westerner’s trust and acceptance of e-commerce has increased greatly, yet it still has a long way to go.By contrast, Chinese have a greater sense of trust and willingness to purchase online freely – almost daily.Some telling statistics (IAB, 2016):

  • Digital commerce adoption among Chinese online adults is higher than the USA, with 89% of Chinese making purchases in the last 12 months compared to 84% in the USA
  • 67% of Chinese adults have purchased via mobile devices in the last 12 months, compared to 34% in the USA
  • Chinese shoppers purchase online more frequently, with nearly a quarter shopping on mobile daily, compared to 15% in the USA
  • 59% of total monthly purchases in China are now made online, compared to 42% in the USA

China’s mature and diverse mobile payment infrastructure is enabling rapid growth and monetisation – across an incredibly diverse range of brands, including WeChat, Weibo, QQ, Alibaba, Baidu, 360 and more.The big players are listening closely and learning – and we need to pay more attention aswell.If you are interested in marketing to Chinese audiences on WeChat in Australia or China, contact Adcess on [email protected] today.The Author:Mark Nunan (MA Virtual Communication; BA Journalism), lectures at RMIT University in Melbourne (Advertising Media) and runs his own digital marketing consultancy and services business. He is also a consultant with a leading Chinese digital agency, Adcess (


Clode, Jerry. (2016). China’s Mega-App As a Storytelling Medium: Using WeChat as a research tool to empower consumer-centred insight. Paper presented at ESOMAR, Qualitative, November 2016.

Hamil, Anna. (2017). Advertising beyond imagination: China emerges as a trailblazer in mobile marketing. May/June 2017. Event Reports, Advertising Week Asia.

Harley, Aurora. (2016). Trustworthiness in Web Design: 4 Credibility Factors. May 8, 2016.

IAB, etal. (2016). Understanding digital commerce in the US & China. November 2016.

Statista. (2017). Number of monthly active WeChat users from 2nd quarter 2010 to 2nd quarter 2017 (in millions).

Techcrunch, (2016). Tencent posts $21.9 billion in annual revenue, its highest growth since 2012. Published March 22, 2017.

TechinAsia, (2014). Guanxi 2.0: how WeChat groups are changing the game in China’s tech and startup scene. Published April 29, 2014.


Seriously thinking to grow your Chinese market share. We know your challenges.

Tell us about your business or product!

Scroll to Top