Douyin, TikTok’s equivalent in China, will grow its user base by 27.8% to 442.6 million users this year, which means that more than half of China’s mobile internet users will use the short-form video app, we estimate. Growth will slow to 7.3% in 2020 and continue to drop in the next few years.
This year, Douyin users make up 67.9% of China's mobile social network users and 59% of smartphone users overall. These figures will grow to 68.3% and 59.6%, respectively, in 2020.
The app’s user growth outpaces that of WeChat and Weibo, though the latter are much more established apps in China.
Douyin’s meteoric rise can be attributed to its increasing popularity among China's internet users under 30. The app launched in 2016 and is currently the one of the most popular short-video apps in the country. It has almost identical functionality with TikTok, though Douyin has slightly more sophisticated ecommerce capabilities, like allowing users to search for and buy products on the app.
China has a very crowded short-video app market, with major tech companies like Baidu and Tencent releasing their own apps. But ByteDance owns not just TikTok and Douyin, but Xigua, Huoshan and Toutiao, with the latter housing more news-based videos. The company also acquired US social media app Musical.ly in 2017, which was merged with TikTok.
“Douyin literally translates to 'vibrating music,' and its content fits that name perfectly by being more dynamic and vibrant, compared with videos on other short-video apps,” said Brian Lau, junior forecasting analyst at eMarketer. “The wide range of features available on the app has sparked the creativity of its users—who are often younger—and has filled such a specific void in an otherwise crowded market. This has allowed Douyin to carve out a niche for itself and grow rapidly.”