Amy Xu
Amy Xu is an associate tech and media analyst for Mintel China. Amy researches and writes reports on Chinese tech and media industries.

Nowadays, people cannot live without using mobile phones. According to Mintel research on mobile apps, the top three mobile apps Chinese people are spending their time on are WeChat, QQ, and Douyin. The general apps market is very saturated at the moment. 

According to Mintel research on Mobile APPs China 2020, there were less than 1% of consumers who have not used any of these three apps within a week. It is also worth noting that between Q1 and Q2 in 2020, when COVID-19 broke out, Douyin surpassed QQ to become the second most used app daily. WeChat continues to be the top-used app for instant messaging,over nine of ten consumers have used it for messaging within a week versus QQ with less than nine of ten.   

However, we are seeing more social apps launched in the market, such as Hood, Huanyu, Qingyuan, etc. In fact, many app developers want to gain market share by riding on the 5G trend where videos will be the key form of medium going forward. The emerging APPs show the developers are seeking diversified competition against WeChat by focusing on some specific verticals.  

According to Mintel research on Digital Trends Q2 China 2020, between Q1 to Q2, although consumers have increased their chatting time with family and friends, the activity that saw the most increase in time spent is watching video content whether it is film/TV series, live stream or short videos. This goes to show that as more consumers get used to having video as a form of communication, app developers are also seeing the power within this form of content.  

APP developers are also seeking changes in niche markets. Hood targets the street fashion community, Qingyuan targets the matchmaking services. These apps are being developed in a niche market where there aren’t many players yet.   

What We Think

Overall, consumers will see first if the app can bring benefits for them in their interest groups.  Mintel’s Gen Z technology habits report shows that four in five of Chinese Gen Z consumers say that friends and public accounts followed on social apps have become the main source of information. For an app to be successful, the user experience is crucial. Factors such as too many in-app ads, frequent app crash, or lag will potentially set consumers off. But if the app developer is to target the Gen Z demographic, providing good content will be the basis that drives their usage.