China's smallest communities are big online users

Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 18-10-2011

Chinese people who live in the smallest communities are going online extensively for entertainment and communication, according to a new study of lower-tier markets that aims to profile China's consumers.
Analyst firm Starcom MediaVest Group's Yangtze Study examined 510 locations across China, concentrating on smaller towns and less-developed areas. It interviewed 13,507 people aged 13 to 45, and found that rural consumers are spending as much time online as their urban counterparts in big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.

Lisa Richert, Starcom MediaVest's director of strategy for North Asia, said: "The biggest thing that surprised me from a pure media standpoint was the penetration of digital in terms of peoples' everyday lives. (Instant messaging program) QQ was everywhere.

"When we think about the habits of digital and peoples' behaviours - chatting, entertainment, communications - it's universal. It's everywhere across China."

The study found that out-of-home ads and TV have the highest reach, both more than 75%, but digital is third at about 60%. And Chinese are spending more of their time on the web: the average consumer is online 3.25 hours per day, spends 2.21 hours watching TV and .51 hours around out-of-home ads. Those in tier-three cities spend the most time online out of all Chinese consumers, 3.57 hours per day on average.

Online video is also hugely popular. The study found that Chinese people spend an average of 1.76 hours per day watching videos on computers, with consumers in tier-two markets, which include provincial capitals and economically developing cities, watching almost 2 hours per day.

"TV is still huge, but the comment that comes back is we need to move away from thinking of TV as the only sense of video content. It is truly video content," said Richert.

"It's about content and people are finding different ways to consume it."