WeChat is the Chinese messaging and social media app that has transformed the entire ecosystem of eCommerce and connects 1 billion users a month. It’s so powerful that most Chinese citizens can’t live without it.
With WeChat, you can message friends, buy almost anything, share moments, transfer money, book restaurants, and play games. You can also send digital money to friends and family with WeChat Pay.
Instead of business cards, people exchange WeChat QR codes to get each other’s personal contact details.
A wide range of products and services can also be purchased using conversational eCommerce. The majority of merchants in China accept WeChat as a method of payment.
The average time of a third of WeChat users on the platform is around four hours a day.
What has helped the growth of WeChat is it has come at the same time as the expansion of cell phone payment usage in China.
Nearly 98% of the 800 million population of China uses it instead of cash. A number that is 50 times the size of US mobile payment usage. There are even several cities that have pedestrian lanes specifically for those on their phones.
However, the convenience of technology which has transformed the way society works comes at what some say is a price.
Government regulations have played a key role in WeChat’s success in China. Tencent, its parent company, has been given subsidies to expand and improve the platform.
The government also blocked US-based competitor Meta from being able to gain any kind of foothold in the market.
The key difference is the social media app is heavily monitored by the government, meaning that every movement or transaction, personal or financial, can be seen by the authorities.
Social media merchandise expert Cassie Yu is uniquely placed to see how the differences play out between the US and Chinese markets.
Chinese by birth, she was a keen user of WeChat before she moved to the US.
Cassie has vast experience in the nuances of social media marketing – through her consulting work with Asiaray Media Group she provided some of the world’s top retailers with technical innovations that have revolutionized their traditional merchandising concepts.
She also specializes in creating events for brands that stimulate, persuade and inform audiences worldwide.
Cassie says it was a shock to the system when she first traveled to the US and didn’t have access to WeChat services in the same way on US-based apps: “In China, international social media is blocked – there is no YouTube or Google, or Instagram. Working in the medium with overseas clients was interesting for me as I saw both worlds.”
She adds: “In China, you do everything on it – all you need to take out with you is a phone. I would arrange to meet people, book dinner, pay for groceries, and set up appointments.”
Cassie is sought after for her unique skills and knowledge of understanding the nuances of both markets. She has been a judge and speaker at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.
Cassie spoke to students at the Graziadio Business School, educating and advising them on social media Influencer merchandising and its importance in retail.
Cassie believes that while the privacy issues still need to be addressed, WeChat can help create huge revenue for companies and influencers: “Influencers can make millions of dollars from their content,” she says.
“They will sometimes live stream for hours, and the key to their success is offering deals from companies that sponsor them. Sharing content is a big thing in China, and getting in on a live stream where you know you are watching it for hours.
“The ease with which you can purchase through WeChat Pay while watching their content means it can be very lucrative. Sometimes influencers can sell millions of products while doing a stream.”
Cassie adds: “While the infrastructure is not in place in the same way in America, I think this is definitely something that is growing here in the US.”
Colin Zhang, is the CEO and founder of Medeq and has experience in seeing how this plays out in the sector.
He says: “Cassie’s specific skills in social media marketing were an incredible asset to the company. Her work with Medeq enabled us to experience unparalleled growth.
“Social Media merchandising and marketing is integral to any company wanting to stay ahead of the game in 2023. Cassie has exemplary expertise in this field and there is no doubt of the benefit to having someone with her experience working on this facet of your business.”
Sebastian Gunawan, one of Indonesia’s leading high fashion designers worked with Cassie when she built his exposure in the Chinese market thanks to a series of innovative campaigns she created.
He says: “By building on the retail concept of a store, as Ms. Yu has done at Revolve, she connects companies to customers more attractively and appealingly.
“By hosting social influencer state-of-the-art events, combining many elements including color, space, lighting, product information, sensory inputs, and digital displays,
“Ms. Yu can use her expertise to influence customers’ purchasing decisions, resulting in greater sales.”