Six attributes of internet users in China

It is worth understanding internet users in China when looking to expand your business into the Chinese online market. China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) reported that China had over 564 million internet users by the end of December 2012.

What are attributes of internet users in China?


1. Demographic:Young internet users in China

The average age of Chinese internet user is approximately 25. The young generation are more active on the internet than older generations.

CNNIC revealed, the percentage of internet users between age of 20 and 29 by the end of 2012 is the highest which is 30.4%, age of 30-39 is 25.3% and age of 10-19 is 24.0%, while older age groups of 40-49 is 12.4% and age of 50-59 is 4.4%. Please consider the age group of Chinese internet users for your target audience.


2. Internet Access Device: Mobile use is increasing rapidly

CNNIC reported China has 422 million mobile internet users, 74.5% among all the internet users. It over passes the desktop which has 70.6% of users. Please consider adapting your website for mobile internet users to explore your products and services as this user group will only continue to rise.


3. Privacy: Using nicknames online

How many names do you have on the internet? For me, I usually use my real name on the Western websites, however I have been using more than 6 nicknames on Chinese websites. Chinese internet users tend to use nicknames rather than their real names online, though there are a number of real name social media sites, such as Renren and Pengyou that require real name use. When dealing with your Chinese online shoppers, you can use a common name to refer to them, which is “Qin (TSin)” that means “My dear” in Mandarin Chinese.


4. Communication: Real time instant messaging

82.9% of Chinese internet users use instant messagers (IM) for live communication. The top B2C and C2C platforms in China, such as Tmall or Taobao are using IM application to communicate with their customers, unlike users in Western countries who tend to use email. So in order to best communicate with your Chinese audience, it would be good to integrate an IM application with your Chinese website.


5. Download: Always seeking free downloads

Chinese users are not willing to pay for softwares, films, games etc. They always seek free download, softwares, free films, free music, free games, free books etc. It is a bad behaviour though, because it offends the copyrights. Therefore it is best to protect your content either behind pay-walls or through digital rights management.


6. Location of internet use: Home

CNNIC reported that by the end of 2012, 91.7% of all internet use came from domestic residencies. Weekly average of time spent online in 2012 was 20.5 hours. Key hours during the day are between 19:00 – 21:00 which are considered rush hours for internet users(data from Baidu Tongji). Therefore it is best consider keeping your real-time communication channels open beyond normal hours of business.

(Image source: “World Wide Web And People” |