China Wine

Users of China’s biggest social media platform WeChat balloon to 1.15 bn

China’s biggest social media platform, WeChat, now boasts more than 1.15 billion monthly active users for a country of 1.4 billion people. What does this mean for people eyeing social media marketing for wine sales in the populous country?

China’s biggest social media platform, WeChat, now boasts more than 1.15 billion monthly active users for a country of 1.4 billion people. So what does this mean for people eyeing social media marketing for wine sales in the populous country?

Why should we care about WeChat?

wechatWeChat or Weixin in Chinese is an all-encompassing social networking app that combines primarily messaging with a mammoth of other features including online shopping, gaming and financial services. It’s like Facebook, Whatsapp and Paypal and more all rolled into one to create the ‘super app’. The app can be used to do anything from ordering delivery to booking hospital appointment.

Because of its convenience, the app now has 1.15 billion monthly active users, an increase of 6% year on year, according to the annual report released by WeChat’s parent company Tencent Holdings on Thursday. For comparison, Twitter has 330 million monthly active users and China’s other popular social media platform, Sina Weibo, has 450 million monthly active users.

For brands looking into reaching directly to their consumers and audience in China, the app is favoured for its personalized interaction between followers and official WeChat accounts. José Neves, founder of the fashion e-tailer Farfetch, praised the add, saying “the first and foremost platform for your direct presence as a brand in China is WeChat,” reported by The New York Times.

As a result, wineries that made most impacts among consumers in China are the ones who are well versed in using WeChat for branding and marketing such as Australia’s wine giant, Treasury Wine Estates, parent company of Penfolds, and Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) for instance.

Who are using Wechat?

Most of WeChat users are young. According to its report last year, only 63 million users are over 55 years old.

Aside from messaging, WeChat has a feature that’s most similar to Facebook, which is Moments or 朋友圈 in Chinese that allows people to share contents to their WeChat friends. According to the newly released report, most active users of WeChat Moments are from China’s top tier cities in Guangzhou, Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Chengdu.

Outside of China, active users are found in Seoul, Osaka, Jeju, Bangkok and Singapore.

When are people using WeChat?

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A screen grab of Australia wine giantTreasury Wine Estates’ official WeChat account

A key part of WeChat marketing and branding is setting up and managing official accounts, namely accounts that are set up by entities such as corporate brands, media, government bodies, celebrities and influencers to broadcast directly to and interact with their followers. WeChat has over 20 million official accounts on its platform as of 2018.

In the wine industry, increasingly wine importers, wine trade bodies and wineries have set up official accounts such as Bordeaux Wine Council, Wines of Chile, Wine Australia, TWE, and DBR Lafite to engage directly with followers in their native language of Chinese.

Timing of content posting from official account is a crucial part of reader engagement as well. According to the new report, the peak time of reading official WeChat accounts is during the night at 9pm.

This means if you are a winery that has an official account on WeChat, the best time to publish your contents to generate maximum engagement should be after working hours and before 9pm to obtain best user engagement.

The report also says that weekend usage time of the platform’s third-party apps known as mini-programs far exceeds weekdays. Mini-programs exist within the WeChat ecosystem and offer more advanced features such as e-commerce, shopping, taxi hailing and delivery.

Usage of delivery mini-programs on WeChat for instance surged during weekends compared with weekdays, up 93% to be exact. Similarly, usage of e-commerce shopping mini-programs would increase by 53% during the weekend compared with weekdays, according to Tencent.

Popular fashion brands such as Dior, Burberry, H&M, and Zara all have WeChat mini-programs. In terms of wine, Vinitaly rolled out a mini-program last year for its wine fair in China for exhibitors and visitors, while Bordeaux Wine Council launched a mini program called ‘Be A Winemaker’. Most Chinese wineries such as Silver Heights in Ningxia also have e-commerce mini-program for direct wine sales. 

Transaction from mini-programs in 2019 exceeded RMB 800 billion (US$115.4 billion), and the total number of mini-programs is over 1 million.  

What are people reading and sharing on WeChat?

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Examples of mini-programs on WeChat from purchasing train tickets, taxi hailing to popular e-commerce sites such as JD.com and Pinduoduo.

For mini-program users, peak time of usage is around lunch time and after work, according to Tencent. Young women tend to use mini-programs for e-commerce and online shopping, and middle-aged women use mini-program for entertainment purpose, says the annual report. 

Regarding content sharing on WeChat Moments, there’s a difference between genders too. Men like to share work and games related articles and contents, while women tend to share more contents related to food/dining and love life.

In 2019, the most searched subject by men on WeChat is Little Sister (小姐姐in Chinese), a popular internet term that refers to young and attractive women.

For women, the most searched subjects on WeChat are lipstick, internet famous (网红) and ‘Eating Melon’, a Chinese internet term that refers to onlooker or the act of bystanding.

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