Success of the mobile web on mainland proves a boon for brands

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 5:34pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 12:42am

Mainland internet users are more than twice as engaged with brands on social media than their Western counterparts, businesses services firm PwC has found.

Colin Light, China consulting digital leader at PwC, said 88 per cent of mainland internet users polled by the firm had interacted with a favourite brand on social media, more than double the global average of 37 per cent.

Ninety-three per cent of respondents said they followed brands or retailers on social media, compared with 49 per cent in the United States, while 86 per cent said they had bought products directly through social media, compared with a global average of 48 per cent.

Light put the high level of engagement down to mainlanders' widespread use of mobile internet. According to the official China Internet Network Information Centre, the number of internet users accessing the web from a mobile device surpassed that of personal computer users for the first time in June, with 527 million people accessing the internet through a smartphone.

"China never went through the online evolution that many Western countries did, it went straight to mobile," Light said. "China is mobile-first as a nation of shoppers.

"What you're seeing in the numbers is a direct reflection of the fact that social is embedded in the buying process in China," he added, highlighting Xiaomi as an example of a brand that had mastered the use of social media as an advertising platform.

The smartphone manufacturer, which surpassed Samsung to become the market leader on the mainland in the second quarter of the year according to research firm Canalys, regularly holds hugely popular flash sales for its new devices which are advertised and promoted heavily on social media.

In one such sale in October, the company sold 100,000 Mi3 phones in 86 seconds.