WeChat is the ‘everything app’ in China, used by more than 1.6 billion people every month. With this crazy data in mind, Elon Musk revealed a new ambition: turn Twitter into X, a super app like WeChat. With no equivalent in the Western world, the idea to create a Western app like WeChat is a good idea. On the paper. Because building such a large ecosystem like WeChat, for People and Companies, seems more like a pipe dream with high risks.
Let’s dive right in.
Main 3 Reasons Why X Can’t Beat WeChat
This is an actionable guide to help you understand the core characteristics of WeChat and the main challenges that X will face. We work in market research and risk management and the first step before any launch is: risk assessment.
These (unsolved) risks are the reasons why X is forecasted to fail.
Reason 1: Time
WeChat developed over the past 15 years and is continuing its evolution.
Wanting to launch a super app requires time and progressive changes. WeChat started by being the app that everyone uses to send messages and call family and friends. They progressively added the function to book a medical check, order food, order a taxi, organize a video conference meeting, and watch short-form videos.
In the meantime, X is starting from Twitter, a social media that was not used by everyone and suffered from a negative reputation due to repeated cyberbullying. The change is brutal and not everyone was familiar with Twitter.
It will take time to clean that out and build a new ecosystem.
Reason 2: Location
WeChat was born in China where it is very common to share your personal information from ID to bank account.
In China, your online and offline identity is linked to an ID number to monitor your interactions. In case of scams or legal issues, you can be tracked or protected whether you are creating it or suffering from it. When you set up your WeChat account, you have to scan your ID (or Passport if you are a foreigner). Your online identity is linked to your official real-life identity and it’s impossible to create scams or fakes (as it is the case on Instagram and Facebook, with the issues we know).
If X comes to life in the West, people will not share all their detailed information.
Especially when the data doesn’t stay in your home country.
The strength of WeChat in China is to make the Chinese data stay in China. All the local apps must follow this rule. This is why the “Great Firewall” is preventing Chinese data to be stocked in Western apps and Chinese data to be exported to Western companies with scrapping tools.
With X, all Western consumers (no matter where they live) will give their data to only one country: the USA. The recent RGPD data protection committee and Twitter’s backlash on data use will be the main risk for X development in other countries outside of the USA. Including France and other European countries.
Reason 3: Social Habits
If you have been to China, you noticed how everyone is using their phones.
No matter the age, the city, the consumer group, the work profile, everyone. It is a strong social habit among Chinese netizens, which is not the case in the West. You can see an 80-year-old Chinese grandpa pay with his phone at the food market, an independent florist in a Tier-5 city asking you to pay via WeChat Pay, or a family ordering food online to cook dinner for tonight with immediate delivery. Everything is digital, and even more everything is social media in China.
This is an important risk to keep in mind while launching such an ambitious plan. Social media users in the West do not use their phones for everything. All WeChat users use or have used once WeChat Pay. On the contrary, the penetration rate of Apple Pay among Apple users is of 51%. And among them, only 18% consider Apple Pay is better than their usual payment method.
If you want to go further, my newsletter is dedicated to this topic on LinkedIn.
Why do Chinese people use WeChat?
WeChat is used by all Chinese people because it’s the most practical app in China. It allows Chinese people to send messages, call, pay, order food, order a taxi, schedule a medical appointment, read articles, and download other apps. It’s an all-in-one app, a super app, or an everything app.
It’s the most used app in China.
An Everything App for People and Companies
The success of WeChat is coming from its personal and professional use. In China, you use WeChat for your private life (family, friends, WeChat Moments, WeChat Friends Circle, etc.) and for your professional life (colleagues, projects, Tencent Meetings). The privacy settings enable users to gather all their contacts, both personal and professional, in a single app while giving access to their private content to selected contacts.
When it comes to privacy settings and app settings, another question is often coming back. Are WeChat and Weixin the same? Weixin is the version for mainland users and WeChat is the version for overseas users. They have the same interface and the same features. The only difference is that Weixin users will have more options in a single feature due to the easy authentication method compared to WeChat users.
The risk we talked about earlier has been answered through the Weixin and WeChat versions.
A Major Tool for B2B and B2C Marketing
For companies and brands exporting to China, WeChat is the ideal marketing tool.
In your B2C strategy, you can incorporate WeChat to increase your brand awareness and sales. First, you can set up an official account with a green check and post up to 4 articles per month. You can dedicate these articles to your company history, company news, latest product release, or educational post in your expertise area. Then, you can go a step further by launching a WeChat store or a Mini-Program to drive sales and consumer loyalty benefits.
In your B2B strategy, you can leverage WeChat to increase your brand consideration and lead generation. When you set up an official account, you can personalize a menu and sub-menus. Each sub-menu can be linked to a page of your website to drive leads to your website and convert them into leads and prospects. You can also use the WeChat Articles as your newsletter for B2B partners and WeChat HTML5 as your catalogue for new product releases and prices.
WeChat is a never-ending source of marketing and interaction possibilities.
The most successful companies in China learn how to leverage it to tackle their exact consumer group. With 1.6 billion users, your final consumer is automatically connected on WeChat. And you’re only one step away from him.
Start on WeChat with a Local Partner
It’s never too late to start on WeChat, especially when you want to develop in the Chinese market.
If you are curious about WeChat for yourself, it’s a great tool to work on your personal branding and interact with Chinese people. You can use it to get in touch with Chinese friends, companies, or business partners. Nobody use emails in China and WeChat is the professional tool for such talks.
If you want to join WeChat for your company, it’s a smart marketing move to increase your company’s awareness and lead generation. WeChat is used for both B2C and B2B marketing strategies to target final consumers, distributors, and retailers. We created and managed WeChat accounts for B2B and B2C companies in China.