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Launched in 2011, WeChat has become not only China's top messaging app, but something that looks increasingly like a mobile operating system. Users can do almost anything from the app, including paying bills, buying online goods, consuming news and entertainment content and—of course—chatting.
WeChat also offers brands the ability to interact with users through various types of accounts, along with its "Moments" content feed. According to the "2016 WeChat Data Report," published in December, the service boasted 768 million daily logged-in users as of September 2016, an increase of 35% from the prior year. Here are four other insights from the report.
No. 1 Growth Rate Stays Sharp
Although there was a drop in the annual growth rate of daily logged in users, measured at 64% in September 2015, WeChat usage remains impressive given that the app is now in its sixth year of existence. The number messages sent on the app increased by 67% between September 2015 and September 2016. Meanwhile video and voice calls jumped by 180% over the same time period, suggesting that engagement with the app not only remains high, but is growing stronger.
No. 2 Younger Users Dominate WeChat
Unsurprisingly, the post-80s and 90s generation (those ages 17 to 36) make up 65% of WeChat's monthly active users (MAUs). This group is also responsible for roughly 80% of the messages sent on the platform. In contrast, those over the age of 55 make up just 1% of MAUs.
No. 3 Red Packets Are Not Just for the Chinese New Year
Digital red envelopes containing gifts of money sent via WeChat originated from the Chinese cultural practice of handing out cash in red envelopes to friends and family on special occasions. These digital gifts were largely shared during Lunar New Year, with 2.4 billion sent daily from February 7 to February 13 of last year. But they were also increasingly used during other special occasions in 2016, including the Mid-Autumn Festival, Valentine's Day, and the Qixi Festival. Monthly spending on Red Packets averaged RMB 580 ($87) among WeChat users ages 17 to 36. That figure dipped to RMB 380 ($57) among users over the age of 55.
No. 4 Tier 1 Users Head to the US
The top international travel destination for WeChat users based in China in was the US, followed by Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and then Thailand. Fully 90% of the WeChat users who traveled to the US hailed from tier 1 cities like Beijing and Shanghai. WeChat travelers based in China who went to other parts of Asia came from a mix of first, second and third tier cities.
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