Young consumers in China turn to the web

30 April 2010

BEIJING: Young consumers in China are spending an increasing amount of time online, with a majority also now choosing to access this channel via their mobile phones.

According to figures from the China Internet Network Information Center, the government body, 195 million people under the age of 25 were regularly using the web in the country by the end of 2009.

This marked an uptick of 17% year-on-year, and also meant that the internet penetration rate among this cohort had reached 54.5% overall.

Youngsters devoted an average of 16.5 hours to surfing the net each week, a figure that had grown by almost two hours compared with 2008.

The most popular activities included entertainment – such as listening to music – on 88%, playing games on 77% and watching video on 67%.

More specifically web users up to the age of 25 years old contributed 54% of the audience for online video, which expanded by 8% to 240 million people for the population as a whole last year.

Elsewhere, a further 77% of these young consumers frequently utilised instant messaging services, with 69% reading blogs, 51% logging on to social networks and 31.7% using forums and bulletin boards.

With regard to search engines, 73.9% turned to services like Baidu, which has recently extended its dominance in China after Google scaled down its domestic operations, to locate information.

Ecommerce, however, had seen much a lower level of uptake, with 26.5% of this demographic having bought goods and services electronically, a figure that fell to 22.9% for using online payment services.

Nearly three-quarters of young netizens also browsed online content on their mobile phones, an improvement of 24% compared on the previous year.

Within this, 85.7% of university students, and 69.3% of their counterparts at middle-school or high-school employed their handsets in this way.

Overall, 87.3% of people who went online via their phone accessed chat services, with 60.8% using mobile search and 54.5% listening to music.

The under-25 year old age group made up 51% of the internet population in China, estimated to stand at some 384 million people, by the end of 2009.

Data sourced from Media Asia/Marbridge Consulting; additional content by Warc staff