Online media is reaching close to half of the Chinese population, according to the latest report from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). Published on February 3, the study found that Internet penetration climbed to 47.9 per cent in 2014, with close to 650 million individuals active online.
This is an increase of 31 million internet connections over 12 months, which - although slower growth compared to previous years - demonstrates that digital media is continuing to attract more consumers, making it a valuable asset in any corporate media intelligence strategy.
Where are China's digital consumers?
Looking further into the report, it seems that mobile browsing is where you will find the majority of China's tech-savvy consumers. The figures revealed that by the end of 2014, 557 million users accessed the internet via a smartphone. This is an 11.4 per cent rise on 2013's figures, climbing by a massive 57 million users.
The previous year's report also found a growing number of consumers were using their mobile phones to access the internet, with up to 73.3 per cent of consumers using their connected device to get on line. Mobile phones are therefore still the main driving force for growth in China's internet market.
Applications that enable consumers to complete daily tasks and social activities online are vastly popular, with 90.6 per cent of Chinese consumers making use of this technology.
Instant messaging adoption increased by 10 per cent in 2014, driven largely by Tencent's WeChat and QQ users. However, not all social media is seeing growth, with the microblogging market down 11 per cent.
In 2014, 54.5 per cent of Chinese internet users reported that they trusted the information they found online. This is a significant increase from seven years earlier, when just 35.1 per cent claimed the same.
According to the CNNIC report, 60 per cent of Chinese internet users feel positive about online activities, with 47 per cent very willing to share their opinions and behaviours online.
This shows that Chinese consumers will not shy away from posting updates on their experiences with businesses, so it is important to track their comments and monitor for mentions of your brand to avoid any negative fallout from potentially damaging reviews. It is therefore easy to see why social media monitoring may be the most important element in your media intelligence strategies in China, with digital media and social apps driving growth in online consumerism.