Short video apps key for engaging China’s lower-tier city youth

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Hillary Han from iResearch at TechNode’s Emerge tech conference on May 23, 2019. (Image Credit: TechNode)

More than a quarter of short video app users in China are under 24 years old, and lower-tier cities are becoming increasingly important sources for growth, Hillary Han, a director at market research company iResearch said at TechNode’s Emerge conference on Thursday.

As of the end of 2018, 80% of China’s 829 million netizens use short video apps, making them even more prevalent than online payment tools, according to a report from the China Internet Network Information Center.

Short video apps have become an increasingly important component of user leisure. Time spent on these types of apps account for 36% of all time spent on entertainment apps in the first quarter of 2019, compared with 22% in the same period of 2018. Combined average daily active users (DAUs) of short video apps also rose 8% in the past six months, a report from data research firm Jiguang said.

These factors have made short video platforms an ideal place for brands to market their products, especially through key opinion leaders (KOLs), experts at the conference said. The fact that users don’t bother or don’t know to compare prices of products promoted on short video apps also makes monetization easier, Han told TechNode.

“According to our experience, when we buy, we at least compare a bunch of products. But this is not the behavior of younger kids. If they trust this KOL, if they can afford this, and this is what they need, they’ll buy it,” Han said.

Most of the purchases are from buyers in lower-tier cities, where industry giants like Douyin and Kuaishou are seeing the fastest growth. “In top-tier cities, people have so much information and so many channels to compare. In lower-tier cities the information channels are limited,” Han explained.

Short video apps also offered an opportunity for KOLs from lower tier cities or even rural areas to go viral. “They don’t necessarily have to come to the city anymore,” Maggie Long, a senior researcher at the e-commerce center of Kuaishou Research Institute, said at the event.

However, while there are around 181 million youth in China who use short video apps, the time they can spend on them is reaching saturation. The time Chinese netizens spend on mobile internet per day has remained at around 4.2 hours for four consecutive quarters since the second quarter of 2018, according to the Jiguang report.