Rahul Sachitanand
Mar 4, 2020

China ecommerce crosses $1 trillion mark: study

We Are Social/Hootsuite report also finds that total digital ad spend in China was US$52.5 billion in 2019.

China ecommerce crosses $1 trillion mark: study

As Chinese consumers flock to ecommerce platforms for their purchases, the market saw sharp growth of 19% in 2019 to top $1 trillion in value, according to We Are Social and Hootsuite's Digital 2020: China report.

Online retail accounted for nearly a quarter of the Chinese retail market and mobile purchases accounted for over half of all purchases, the study revealed.

The value of the consumer goods ecommerce market, measured on total annual sales revenue, grew from $636.1 billion in 2018 to $867.6 billion in 2019.

The report also found that China added 25 million internet users and 15 million social media users in 2019. The country's social media penetration rose from 71% to 72% in 2019, with 1.04 billion users in total, who have an average of 9.3 accounts each.

In terms of time spent on social media, China clocks in at 2 hours and 12 minutes a day, behind the world leaders in the Philippines (3 hours and 53 minutes), reveals Digital 2020: China, a study by 

Pete Lin, managing director for North Asia, We Are Social, said: “Social media is now fully embedded into our lives here in China. Our innovators are no longer copy-cats: they are now showing the way towards the future... the most populous country is also now the most digitally savvy.”

According to findings of this study, WeChat is by some distance the most popular social media platform, even as Sina Weibo and Baidu Tieba also attract plenty of eyeballs. Douyin doesn’t appear to be an option in GlobalWebIndex’s survey for the “top platforms" question in China (as used for slide 39), which would explain why it doesn’t appear (i.e. it’s an omission in the survey, rather than not ranking due to low use), the report's author clarified to Campaign.

For context, the latest MAU data suggests TikTok/Douyin has 800 million users worldwide, of which 500 million are in China. On the question of Baidu Tieba vs Kuaishou question: the ranking is based on people’s own claimed behaviour. As a result, data may not match the MAU / DAU numbers published by platforms, they added. 

Given the traction with mobile use in China (1.61 billion mobile connections or 112% vs population and all active social media users say they connect via mobiles), the country's digital advertsing market has crossed several landmarks in 2020. 

 
However, in terms of brand discovery, web browsers in China seemed to prefer old school means to find their way. TV ads continue to be among the top three methods of brand discovery, as social media and in-app ads languished at the bottom.
 
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