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WeChat Is China's Most Popular Chat App

WeChat had a monthly active user base in China totaling 706.7 million in March 2016

June 9, 2016 | Mobile

As of March 2016, mobile messaging app WeChat had 762 million users globally, according to parent company Tencent, making it one of the most popular chat apps in the world. Nowhere is that popularity greater than in WeChat’s home country of China, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “WeChat in China: A Massive, Engaged User Base that Is Now More Reachable than Ever.”

Leading Social Media Sites/Chat Apps Among Social Media Users in China, 2013-2015 (% of respondents)

Tencent doesn’t give a breakout of its user base in China. But according to Beijing-based data-tracking firm QuestMobile, WeChat’s monthly active user base there totaled 706.7 million in March 2016, equal to 93% of the company’s global count and giving it a dominant lead as the China’s most popular mobile app.

Tencent’s QQ mobile app, which got its start as a desktop messaging service, came in second with 554 million monthly active users, QuestMobile found, followed by Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer shopping app Taobao with 346 million. Microblogging site Sina Weibo, once China’s most popular social media platform, trailed in seventh place with 271 million users.

Other recent research comparing social media sites mirrored QuestMobile’s findings. More than three-quarters of social media users in China polled by Kantar in 2015 said WeChat was their most frequently used social media site or chat app, compared with 35% who cited Weibo.

WeChat’s allure for marketers is not just its user count. It has something else that marketers covet: a user base that returns repeatedly and for long periods of time.

Number of Times per Day that WeChat Users in China Access WeChat, March 2016 (% of respondents)

More than 90% of WeChat users polled in Q4 2015 and in March 2016 accessed the app daily, and more than three-fifths of them used it more than 10 times per day, according to Tencent Penguin Intelligence and China Academy of Information and Communications Technology’s 2016 “WeChat Impact Report.”

Moreover, the percentage of respondents who said they used the app more than 30 times a day rose to 36% in this year’s report, up from about 25% in the 2015 version.

Daily Time Spent Using WeChat According to WeChat Users in China, March 2016 (% of respondents)

More than half of WeChat users in China spent over an hour a day on the platform, and nearly a fifth of them were on it for more than 4 hours a day, Tencent’s 2016 report showed.

Also attractive for marketers: WeChat’s primary users are in the sweet spot of marketers’ typical target consumer age group. According to the first “WeChat Impact Report,” published last year, 86% of WeChat users were between the ages of 18 and 35. (This year’s report didn’t give a user age breakdown.) This is important because consumers ages 35 or younger are expected to be responsible for 65% of China’s consumption growth over the next five years, according to a December 2015 Boston Consulting Group and AliResearch study.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “WeChat in China: A Massive, Engaged User Base that Is Now More Reachable than Ever.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer corporate subscribers.

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