WeChat is one of the most popular Apps available, with over 1 Billion Monthly Users. So why is it that so few people outside China know about it?
WeChat may seem like a normal messaging app from an outside perspective, but it's so much more than that. WeChat is more like an Operating System than a standalone app due to how many functions are available and how much its users rely on its services. WeChat has become a necessity for Chinese users in China and abroad. WeChat's "Mini-Programs" feature is like an App within an App. WeChat has almost 580,000 mini-programs, ranging from Food Delivery, Taxi Apps, Bike Hire, or Online Shopping stores.
WeChat includes a "Wallet" feature, in which you can use WeChat to pay bills, buy items in-store, send money to other WeChat users, and order items online through mini-programs. Chinese users can link their bank accounts and credit cards to make shopping online easy and accessible. WeChat Payment had over 300 million users by the end of 2016, and that number grew to 800 million by the end of 2018. For Chinese New Year, WeChat introduced a "red envelope" feature, allowing users to send money in virtual red-envelopes in line with the holiday. In 2016, over 3.2 billion red envelopes were sent for Chinese New Year.
WeChat is an amalgamation of features from other social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as being a web-browser. WeChat's most used feature, messaging, is much like Facebook's messenger but with more features. WeChat provides normal text messaging and photo-sharing as well as conference calls, video games, location sharing, and Bluetooth contact exchange. WeChat also includes "Moments", a social feed much like a combination of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. "Moments" is only available to your friends on WeChat for a more personal experience.
WeChat's e-commerce model is different than other apps. Due to its mini-programs feature and wallet feature, WeChat users don't have to leave the app to purchase products, with features such as Scan-and-go (using the app to scan and purchase products in-store and checkout without waiting in line) and Omnichannel experiences (purchasing online and picking up in-store). WeChat has turned e-commerce into a social thing, with options like Group Buying, where companies offer discounts to shoppers who encourage other people to also shop, and Social Selling, where companies use mini-programs to sell to their followers.
The most important step to marketing a Brand in China or to a Chinese audience is using WeChat. Much like an official Facebook or Twitter page, giving your brand a WeChat account is the best way to be able to engage a Chinese audience and keep your audience updated. Any foreign brand can build its own WeChat website and begin selling products to both onshore and offshore Chinese consumers. Setting up shop in WeChat opens up opportunities for your business that are not available in other social media.