“Internet penetration in China was 47.4% by the end of 2014. There are an increasing number of consumers using mobile devices to access the internet. Chinese social and media network users are abandoning microblogging for IM (Instant Messenger)-type social networks (especially WeChat).
Leading networks (eg WeChat and Sina Weibo) are transforming into comprehensive service providers by offering services like online payment, online shopping or online games. Chinese consumers are actively using these networks to search for information, post reviews and make purchases, suggesting that brands can do more to enhance brand awareness and build brand image via social and media networks.”
– Ivy Jiang, Research Analyst

In this report, Mintel answers the following key questions:

  • Other than WeChat and Sina Weibo, are there any other emerging social and media networks brands and companies should pay attention to?

  • How do consumers interact with brands’ official accounts on social and media networks?

  • Are consumers ready to make purchases through social and media networks?

  • What kind of advertising on social and media networks can attract more consumer attention?

  • How do people with different demographics (eg gender, city tier) behave on social and media networks? What’s their difference in attitudes towards social and media networks?


This is the second China report in Social and Media Networks, building on Mintel’s Social and Media Networks – China, May 2014.

Social and media networks primarily refer to platforms (websites or apps) for social networking activities online. Based on the end purposes and functionalities, these websites and apps can be split into two types of networks in this report.

Social networks

Mintel defines social networks as any networks which have person-to-person interaction at the heart of their offering. Some major social network sites in China are:

  • Blog style sites, eg Tencent Qzone

  • Microblogging sites, eg Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo. “Weibo” itself is used to describe microblogging sites in general.

  • Mobile social/messaging apps, eg QQ, WeChat, Momo

  • Social networking sites (SNS), eg Renren, Kaixin001

  • Vertical SNS (networks focusing on one or few areas with speciality), including professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and dating sites such as Jiayuan, Baihe, and Zhenai.

Media networks

Media networks are networks that facilitate person-to-person communication either through the sharing of media, or with a thematic focus on media (such as books, films or games). Some major media network sites in China are:

  • Video streaming sites, eg Youku and Tudou

  • Entertainment reviewing sites, eg Douban

  • Online forums/BBS, eg Baidu, Tieba, Zhihu

  • Light-blogging sites (a more lightweight service than microblogging services, and normally having easy sharing of photos/videos at its core), eg Tumblr, Diandian, LOFTER.

There are a number of further diversifications seen on social and media networks, such as:

  • Online community for a specific group of people, eg Guokr for science and technology enthusiasts

  • The video sharing website with a real-time commentary subtitle system that displays user comments as streams of moving subtitles overlaid on the video playback screen, eg Bilibili

  • Micro-video Community, which allows users to take and share micro videos which are generally less than 60 seconds in length, eg Meipai, Weishi.

Social networking platforms which cannot be accessed within mainland China officially, such as Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter and Instagram, are not included in the main discussions and market data, but may be mentioned to provide contextual or comparative information.

Demographic groups

Heavy users are defined as using the social or media network once a day or more.

Frequent users are defined as using the social or media network several times a week.

Light users are defined as using the social or media network between once a week and once a month or less.

Non-users are defined as not visiting a social or media network in the past six months.

High earners/high income group refer to consumers with monthly personal income RMB8,000 or above

Low earners/low income group refer to consumers with monthly personal income RMB4,999 or below

Well-educated consumers refer to people with postgraduate degree or above.


For the purposes of this report, Mintel commissioned a quantitative research survey carried out online via QQSurvey to examine consumers’ usage behaviour on and attitudes towards social and media networks.

Fieldwork was conducted in March 2015, in four tier one cities and six tier two and tier three cities of 3,000 adults aged 20-49 across the country. The tier one cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. The tier two and tier three cities are Shenyang, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Yantai, Shaoxing, and Shantou.

This is a marketing intelligence report published by Mintel. The consumer research exclusively commissioned for this report was conducted by a Chinese licensed market survey agent (see Research Methodology China for more information).


ACG Anime, Comic and Game
app Application
BBS Bulletin Board System
CNNIC China Internet Network Information Centre
GPS Global Position System
IM Instant Messenger
JV Joint Venture
LBS Location Based Services
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