China’s internet users in smaller cities, representing more than half of total netizens in the world’s most-populous nation, remain heavily attached to their mobile phones and are spending an increasing amount of their online time glued to short video content, according to the findings of a newly-released report.
Over 80% of netizens in lower tier Chinese cities – classed as tier-three to tier-five in the study – described the mobile phone as their favourite pastime and said they were happy to spend almost all their leisure time on it, according to a report released by Penguin Intelligence, the research arm of China internet giant Tencent.
Their online habits differ with the online behaviour of netizens in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, and 20.8% of smaller city users in the survey said they accessed the mobile internet all night without sleep, compared with 16.8% in first-tier cities. 68.3% of lower-tier city users said they preferred to read novels online and access short video content before they go to bed, compared with 53.6% in first-tier cities, whose netizens prefer TV series, films and social networking.
China’s internet users have more than tripled the amount of time they spend watching short videos in the last year, according to the China Internet Report. The number of monthly active users for short video apps in China doubled in 2017 to 414 million, according to the report. Mobile users in other countries are also embracing the format, making short-video apps the latest export from China's internet industry.
The live-streaming market has enjoyed explosive growth in China in recent years, and is estimated to be worth US$4.4bil (RM18bil) in 2018 with viewer numbers topping 456 million, according to a Deloitte report. However, the growth in popularity has also coincided with a crackdown on content deemed inappropriate by Beijing.
Netizens in lower-tier Chinese cities spend more money on online content, such as games and video memberships, with 24.9% of them spending over 500 yuan (RM300) on online content per month compared with 20.7% for first-tier city netizens.
Although online shopping is popular among lower-tier city netizens, only 41.8% of them purchase products online compared with a penetration ratio of 51% in first-tier cities.
And 27.9% of internet users in lower-tier cities describe themselves as being part of the moonlight clan, a Chinese term used to describe those who live check-to-check, spending their entire salary every month, compared with 23.6% in first-tier cities, with the rate higher for women.
However, 70% of netizens in lower-tier cities said they sometimes feel “bored” with the information they receive from their mobile phones and are waiting for more interesting and entertaining online products.
Netizens in lower-tier cities go to work earlier, with 60% of them arriving at around 8am, and 17% of them have flexible working time. This compared with a start time of 9am for half of people surveyed in first-tier cities.
The Tencent report findings were based on the responses of 4,698 people, 900 of whom came from first-tier cities. – South China Morning Post