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Social Media Plays Crucial Role in Chinese Consumers’ Personal – But Not Professional – Lives, Finds New CTA Study

Shanghai, China, June 7, 2017 Social media is a fundamental part of Chinese consumers’ personal lives, but it is not used professionally as much as it is in Western countries, according to the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) new study, Digital Lifestyles in China.

The study, unveiled today at CES Asia, explores Chinese consumers’ online behaviors in three key areas: social networks, shopping preferences and video content consumption. Owned and produced by CTA and co-produced by Shanghai Intex Exhibition Co., Ltd. (Shanghai Intex), CES Asia 2017 takes place June 7-9 in Shanghai, China.

“In the span of just a decade, China has developed and deployed a world-class online services sector – and Chinese consumers have fully embraced it,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research, CTA. “Connectivity is shaping Chinese consumers’ lifestyles faster and more dramatically than we’ve seen in with other countries. Brands must understand how this mobile connection shapes Chinese personal networks, content consumption and buying behavior.”

Social Networks

Chinese consumers are highly engaged on social media, using messaging platforms to connect with personal contacts (63 percent). About half engage with social content by liking (49 percent) and commenting (42 percent) daily or even multiple times a day. However, only 28 percent of Chinese use social media for professional purposes.

Additionally, smartphones are the preferred devices for Chinese consumers when it comes to interacting via social media, because they’re always in-hand. WeChat is the leading social networking site – 95 percent of Chinese have an account and 86 percent of those users connect multiple times a day. WeChat is also a leading platform for mobile payments in China – nine in ten Chinese (88 percent) use their smartphones to shop online.

“Our research shows that Chinese consumers embrace social media as a necessary part of modern society,” said Koenig. “But the strong delineation we see between consumers’ social and professional social media use is striking. It’s possible that creating reliable firewalls between their personal and professional social networking could help the majority of Chinese express their individuality, while still maintaining a professional persona.”

Buying Behaviors

Shopping behavior is another area where CTA’s research identified a significant difference between American and Chinese consumers. Among Chinese consumers, an overwhelming preference exists for shopping online vs. in-store. Sixty-one percent of Chinese say they prefer to shop online, compared to just 11 percent who prefer to shop in-store. Almost all Chinese consumers (90 percent) say they’ve purchased a product from leading Chinese retailer Tmall in the last year. The study also shows there are very few products Chinese consumers can’t, or won’t purchase online — mainly expensive items they need to see, feel or try.

Video Consumption

Like many in the world, Chinese consumers use streaming video to relax and pass time. When it comes to content sources, Chinese consumers are generally receptive to engaging with both domestic and foreign content, slightly preferring domestic channels and outlets, especially for news.

CTA’s Digital Lifestyles in China was designed and formulated by CTA Market Research, the most comprehensive source of sales data, forecasts, consumer research and historical trends for the consumer technology industry. The complete study is available for free for CTA member companies at CTA.tech/membership. Non-members may purchase the study at the CTA store.

Note to Editors:  Journalists traveling from outside of China will require a J-1 or J-2 visa. For questions about exhibiting at CES Asia, contact Brian Moon at bmoon@CTA.tech or +1 703-907-4351.