With over one billion active users (of which only 6 million are located outside China) WeChat has proven to be one of the biggest players when it comes to promotion. 

That is why it is practically impossible for Western brands to ignore the platform and not be part of it  if China is among your target markets. Like all social media, WeChat is constantly evolving to keep up with the old and new competitors and 2020 will be a very busy year for the Tencent giant, with a series of updates and changes that will help advance and evolve the platform and offer new opportunities for both private users and companies.


Let’s see what will happen in 2020.


Growth trend (and decrease).


The rapid growth levels of WeChat have slowed down, this is a physiological fact: the penetration of WeChat in the Chinese market has practically reached its peak.

Bad news also regarding the time spent by users on WeChat: it decreased by 8.6% between 2018 and 2019.

The reasons for this decline are to be found in the rise of new social media that has characterized all of 2019, including TikTok and Toutiao of Bytedance and which continue to disrupt the WeChat ecosystem.

Despite these factors, WeChat remains – and will remain for quite some time – the most used platform in China and the number 1 for conversion rate especially for Luxury products.


What official accounts should expect.


Users continue to follow a large number of official WeChat accounts. About half of the users on the platform follow 10 to 20 official accounts. These users come into contact with new accounts mainly through the “suggestions” that WeChat gives them based on the accounts they already follow or through organic searches on WeChat.

Over 50% of users spend 10-30 minutes a day on official accounts and about 20% of users spend 30 minutes to an hour.

The categories searched by users among the official accounts vary according to gender. Male users are more interested in finance, while female users are more interested in shopping.

Only 3% of published articles receive more than 10,000 views in an organic way, this means that new brands that aim to increase their follower base organically will receive a bad outcome. The promotion of the account should always be taken into account in a digital strategy on WeChat, especially in the case of new accounts. With regard to the promotion it is good to keep in mind that 47.8% of users buy products directly from influencer recommendations, confirming the KOL and micro-KOL as a winning promotional strategy.


The descent of WeChat Advertising.


Tencent pushed WeChat Advertising very much for competing with new social networks, especially TikTok, but in this sense, the platform has seen better days. The growth rate of WeChat Adv fell from 38% in the 4th quarter of 2018 to 16% in the 2nd quarter of 2019. Due to increased competition, WeChat is drastically renewing its advertising features to make them more profitable and convenient, therefore we can expect some news soon.

The improvements made in 2019 are:

– Greater geographical precision and greater targeting of the public for advertising banners

– Possibility to insert announcements of an entire page within the mini-programs

– Possibility to insert video advertisements within the mini-programs


The WeChat mini-programs are booming.


In less than 2 years the number of mini-programs active on WeChat has reached that of the apps available in traditional stores.

If WeChat Advertising is slowing down, the mini-programs have increased by over 23% over the same period. The number of active users per month on mini-programs also increased by 52% to reach 746 million.

Today, there are over 2.3 million mini-programs on the market with over 60% of WeChat users who have used one. Most WeChat mini-programs are found by users through sharing (35%), browsing (25%) or official accounts (14%). It is essential that the mini-programs work from a technical point of view to maintain user loyalty. Furthermore, mini-programs tend to have a higher involvement rate than official accounts.


Consumer marketing with WeChat CRM.


WeChat CRM makes it easier than ever for brands to stay in touch with their customers. Brands can now track and engage the entire WeChat ecosystem from campaigns to customer service. The system tracks each user with a unique ID and collects data for each individual interaction with a brand. You can send personalized messages by gender, location and even customer relationship. It is also possible to observe customers’ buying behavior, identify the exact position of relevant conversations and distribute special offers to geographically close consumers.

Data collection is only the beginning of the work, in fact it is necessary to use this data wisely to make it useful and effective in a marketing strategy.


E-commerce growth on WeChat


Tencent has invested for years in the development of e-commerce through WeChat, setting itself the ambitious goal of competing with e-commerce giants like Alibaba and JingDong.

WeChat e-shops are available in Weidian Shop or Mini-Program form and allow access to different functions:

• Scan-and-go: buyers can use a retailer’s mini-program to scan products and check out without queuing at the checkout.

• Omnichannel experiences: allow buyers to buy online and collect in the store.

• Group purchases: companies offer discounted prices to buyers if they encourage enough people to buy. The original buyer shares a product with the discounted price with his base of friends on WeChat and if enough people make the purchase, everyone will receive the product at a discounted price.

• Social Sells: users can advise and sell products to their WeChat followers.

• Sales through KOL: influencers can insert product tags into their contents that take buyers to a page where they can make purchases.

• Shops without staff: these are shops where there are no personnel. Retailers allow buyers to access them via a mini-program, make purchases, and receive an invoice on their personal WeChat.


WeChat Pay also available in Western countries.


WeChat pay is the digital payment system implemented in the WeChat super-app. From 2019 it is possible for Chinese consumers traveling abroad to use this service. What happens is that the customer scans a QR code to pay in his own currency (Chinese Yuan) and the seller will receive this payment in his own currency directly on the current account. The spread of WeChat pay is interesting not only for companies that want to sell in China but also for those that are interested in Chinese tourists, therefore the whole world of hospitality, but also transport, retail and catering.


WeChat loyalty tactics to keep in mind.


The most widespread loyalty technique is the “reward marketing” or “prize marketing” in which the customer is rewarded during or after a purchase. In 2019 the most effective strategy at the retail level was that in which subscription programs are required before a user even thinks of making a purchase. In the case of a subscription, gifts or special discounts are offered, or a substantial discount on the first purchase. This means that all potential customers are members, which leads to more data and better segmentation, therefore, to greater revenue growth.


The new influencers.


By now, almost everyone knows what a KOL is (if you don’t know it, click here) and how to find the right one for your promotional campaign. But in the last year new players have appeared in the influencer arena: the KOC (Key Opinion Consumer)

KOCs are ordinary consumers who leave reviews on products. Their strength lies in authenticity: KOLs are sometimes perceived as “commercial” as it is clear that they promote a product only because they are paid.

Chinese consumers prefer this type of influencer because they trigger less detached relationships by facilitating the user’s decision-making process at the time of purchase. Keep in mind that KOCs cannot completely replace KOLs, but they available and can be extremely useful for smaller brands entering the Chinese market.


We can conclude that despite a downturn in WeChat’s performance, the super-app created by Tencent is and remains the most used in China and a must for all companies that decide to relate to this market.


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