China’s Internet user reaches 731 million, equals the entire population of Europe

According to a statement by China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) released at the end of January 2017, China’s online population reached 731 million, up 6.2% from the end of December 2015. There are now more Chinese netizens than the entire population of Europe.

Not only does China have the world’s largest online population - 53.2% of Chinese people are online – it also has the highest average global internet penetration rate, which is 7.6% higher than anywhere in Asia.

However, as growth rates slow and no longer offer what Penguin Intelligence dubbed “savage growth”, the internet sector may experience a cooling effect as China’s slowing economy and demographic dividend weigh on the sector.

 2009-2016 China Internet population growth rate

Source:CNNIC, Penguin Intelligence

Distribution of time spent on the most popular five types of Apps in China

In China, the average time Internet users spend online is 21.6 hours per week, according to CNNIC. There are five types of apps that are most popular among Chinese mobile Internet users.

The chart below from Quest Mobile shows time spent on instant messaging apps that are consistent with the majority of people’s work and leisure time. There are four peak times (17:00, 19:00, 22:00 and 12:00 AM) for live steaming apps. The usage of news apps is growing between 6AM to 11AM. Interestingly, many people like to shop online around 12PM and 20_00. The peak usage for Weibo social media apps is between 21PM and 22PM.

The boom of online payments and e-commerce in China

CNNIC reported that by the end of December 2016, the number of people who access the internet from mobile phones reached 695 million, or 95.1% of all internet users in China.

Online payment users grew to 469million, up 31.2% from the previous year. 67.5% of internet users made a purchase on their mobile phone, up from 57.7% the previous year. More than half of the Internet users have used mobile payments to purchase offline in stores.

E-commerce continues to be adopted by more and more people in China. Forbes reported that e-commerce sales on China were up 26.2% year on year and accounted for 12.6% of total retail sales in 2016, compared to 9.7% in 2015.

Of particular note, in 2015 on Singles Day - the online shopping event organized by Taobao - Chinese consumers spent a record 91.2bn yuan (USD$14.3bn, AUD$17.5bn) online during over the 24 hours. This equates to more than double compared what American consumers’ spent on last year’s Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined (USD$5.8bn) according to ComScore.

This makes Singles Day the biggest day for internet shopping on the global retail calendar.
 

Sample statistics from CNNIC report:

  • To December 2016, China online population reached 731 million, 42.99 million more people connect to the internet compared to the last year. The Internet penetration rate reached 53.2%, increasing 2.9% more than last year.
  • To December 2016, China mobile Internet users reached 695 million. Among the online population the percentage of people who use mobile phone to access Internet rose to 95.1% from 90.1% the previous year

  • 75.7% of online users in China are aged from 10 to 39. Among them the majority are between 20 to 29, or 30.0%. The number of Internet users who are under 10 and over 40 years old has slightly increased compared to 2015. 

  • The ratio between male and female internet users in China is 52.4:47.6 which is getting close to the China sex ratio

  • To December 2016, 27.4% of the China online population are from rural areas, the number of people reached 200 million, and increased 5.26 million compare to the previous year.

 

by Selena Hu
Marketing & Communications Advisor, Isentia - North Asia in Insights.

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