While the annual reports are published as the new year starts, it becomes clear how the Chinese Internet and its users have evolved over the last year. The most striking change? I’d say: mini-programs that take over Chinese platforms- you can hardly imagine the Chinese internet without them anymore; also, the huge change from regular e-commerce to “social e-commerce”. These trends are expected to rule over 2019.
What else? Short-video platforms are now facing new content regulations, Chinese tourists are preparing for the Lunar New Year, and more arrests between China and the Western countries…
The number of mini-programs in expected to reach 5 million in 2019 - with over 350 million users. Since their inception two years ago by WeChat, they’ve won over users’ hearts. Other platforms, such as Alibaba, Douyin, Baidu, or Toutiao sensed these to be the medium of modern China and now most of the major apps offer brands an ability to open a mini-program. For companies they’re cheaper to develop than stand-alone apps and can rely on the user base of huge Chinese platforms, and for users: they’re quicker and more convenient. - Read more (Chinese)
WeChat focuses on building a knowledge sharing platform in 2019. They aim at building a community that will share their skills and knowledge. They just opened a class for mini-program developers. - Read more (Chinese)
Content that is “stimulating”, advocates “non-mainstream concepts of marriage and love” or materialism is to be banned from short-video platforms, according to the latest censorship standards. Just as the regular “non-compliant with socialist values”, the terms are very broad and can be used to fit any content that regulators don’t like. It is likely to affect any content covering LGBT+ themes, kissing, sex, nudity, “money worship and hedonism”. - Read more (English)
Xiaomi opens the first ever Douyin pop-up store. Just as we discussed last week, short-video apps are serious about moving into e-commerce business. Xiaomi - who just split Redmi into an independent brand - now sells its new smartphone directly through a short-video app. The product was launched on January 10. See the official WeChat’s article here (in Chinese).
Merchants incline towards social e-commerce as managing Taobao or Jingdong stores becomes more expensive. The tendency of withdrawing from giant e-commerce platforms is growing, as micro-stores let them bind their social followers and sales together. They are also easier to open and manage. Platforms such as Pinduoduo or Yunji are based on revenue sharing (explained here).
As of August 2018, the number of Yunji stores exceeded 5 million. - Read more (Chinese)
Great tax incentives, fighting counterfeit goods - how the new e-commerce law affects domestic and international brands? Obviously, it’s not only daigou’s businesses that the law targeted. Read a sum-up here (in English).
Over 7 million Chinese are expected to travel abroad for upcoming Chinese New Year. The week-long holiday starts on February 4 and will last till February 10 - however, many Chinese have decided to extend their holidays for up to three weeks. Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore are top destinations. - Read more (English)
Many people plan their trips ahead of time - as prices skyrocket around the holidays and it’s difficult to get any tickets. But there’s still a chance to target tourists that look for last-minute deals - just to escape nagging questions during family gatherings ;-)
Burberry's Chinese New Year campaign labeled as “creepy” instead of “reunion and togetherness” the brand aimed for. Burberry’s team wanted to underline how the holiday is about family, but Weibo users were rather straightforward saying: “This is a group of people who plan to kill this ultra-rich grandma and keenly fight over her inheritance."
On the other hand, some users mentioned that the Western brand saw beyond all the fake holiday cheerfulness. “I’m really sick of seeing a happy Chinese New Year,” one user said. - Read more (English)
John Cena is obsessed with Chinese chilli sauce, Laoganma (老干妈). A few months ago the American WWE wrestler/actor posted a video on Weibo praising the sauce - he recorded himself speaking Chinese impressing Chinese netizens. The topic was revived as Cena’s new movie, Bumblebee, hit the cinemas. Cena stated it was not an advertisement - just his admiration for Chinese culture and products. - Read more (Chinese) or see the video here.
Baidu’s response to Alexa has been installed on 200 million devices as the company switches from relying on its search engine to artificial intelligence. DuerOS’s main goal is to turn the idea of smart life into reality. The device is for now winning with Amazon’s Alexa and losing to Google’s Assistant. But I’m curious to see where it goes - because just as usual, whatever you do, there’s a high chance Chinese will do it faster and better. - Read more (English)
Huawei’s executive charged with espionage in Poland. He was detained alongside a Polish citizen who was also reported to be involved in the case. Poland is yet another country to raise concern over safety of Huawei’s equipment. Here’s the full coverage of the story so far.
As expected, Chinese media has responded with rather heated posts saying there’s nothing in Poland that’s worth stealing, and that Poland, like Canada, is just trying to flatter the U.S. Read the story’s coverage by Global Times here.