The pandemic has dramatically shifted media consumption behaviour across China, driving record high internet and app usage – one of several noteworthy trends that are shaping the country’s internet economy during 2020.
And, notes Joey Liu, Senior Manager, Strategy & Special Projects at the South China Morning Post, as the largest internet population and economy in the world, many of the developments taking place in China are being closely tracked by brands from all markets – especially as the market emerges and recovers from lockdown measures.
Writing for WARC, Liu flags some international contrasts: 765 million people in China, more than half of the country’s total population, engage in mobile payments, whether it’s grocery shopping, hailing taxis, or paying a bill at a restaurant. By comparison, only 21% of the US population or 63 million Americans utilise mobile payments.
But, he points out, this is just the tip of the iceberg as Chinese companies have modernised across all industry verticals, from shopping to messaging to online education and more, and it’s a process that has been accelerated by the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, for example, Chinese users spent an average of 5.6 hours per day on the internet; during COVID, that number spiked to 7.2 hours.
More importantly, the number of monthly active users for specific categories of apps has surged; work productivity apps saw an increase of 308 million users, short-form video apps saw an increase of 123 million users, and education apps saw an increase of 79 million users (“that’s larger than the entire student population in the United States”, Liu observes).
The coronavirus has also accelerated digitalisation across various sectors: education is seeing adoption of online learning and new formats of instruction, healthcare is seeing growing online patient consulting and knowledge sharing, and even recruitment is shifting to video interviews and virtual job fairs as the norm.
Moreover, many new technologies have played an important role in containing the coronavirus outbreak, resulting in more application use cases and further development of these emerging technologies.
AI, for example, was widely used in China to analyse CT scans and diagnose patients suspected of having the coronavirus. Usually, it takes a doctor 5 to 15 minutes to analyse a scan, but AI can complete the recognition process within 20 seconds.
For more details, read Joey Liu’s article in full: Five trends shaping China’s internet economy in 2020.
Sourced from WARC