China’s Internet users are consuming ever-increasing amounts of video online, especially on their mobile devices, offering retailers new marketing options in 2016 and suggesting that online video key to capturing Chinese consumersaccording to a recent report from market intelligence firm Mintel.
According to Mintel’s report, which identified four key China consumer trends for the coming year, 83 percent of the country’s web surfers watched videos using desktop computers in April this year, while 73 percent of tablet users did the same. Meanwhile, 58 percent of people were accessing video content on smartphones.
As of June, more than 461 million people in China had consumed video content online, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, with 354 million users—more than the entire U.S. population—accessing it from their mobile phones.
The increasing popularity of video content in China offers retailers new opportunities for customer engagement, says Shanghai-based Mintel trends analyst Philix Liu. “The future of video in marketing is to establish two-way communication, and brands could release the full potential of video with live-streaming and virtual-reality technologies,” Liu says.
For example, according to the report, Inner Mongolia-based dairy giant Yili Group over the summer held a celebrity game show in front of its milk production line and live streamed the event on Youku Tudou. Consumers got their celebrity fix and a view of the quality of Yili’s factories at the same time in an unedited live show.
Liu also pointed to virtual reality as another up-and-coming marketing medium, saying it has the potential to provide an “interactive and engaging experience so that brands could close the gap between them and their consumers.” The goal is to get consumers as close to the product as possible to aid in their decision to buy. The technology is already being put to use by companies such as French cheese brand Boursin, coffee maker Nescafe and Marriott Hotels, which last year used a VR booth in New York to allow newlyweds leaving city hall to experience a virtual honeymoon in London and Hawaii.
One more trend to watch in this space, according to Mintel, is Chinese consumers’ willingness to pay for online video content. Thirty-eight percent of them have already paid for online video streaming and another 31 percent have said they’d considering doing so. This means Internet-based streaming services such as Youku Tudou, recently acquired by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, could see significant growth, as could China’s nascent Internet-based pay-per-view market as a whole.
Beyond video, Mintel also expects in 2016 to see continued expansion of China’s online-to-offline services market as more brick-and-mortar retailers and service providers adopt smartphone technology to reach customers. China’s largest Internet companies this year have been investing heavily in the so-called “on demand” local services market, seeking to make money by connecting consumers with a range of everyday services such as taxi rides, food delivery and movie tickets.
Other top 2016 trends identified by Mintel were the growing purchasing power of China’s women, and the country’s increasing focus on health and well-being.