As WeChat’s community ages, marketers need to get strategic to target millennials

WeChat’s user base is aging. Much like Facebook, the social network’s growth is coming from China’s seniors, or ‘silver generation’, who are embracing the app.


The silver generation, those aged over 60 years, spend more than 80% of their data traffic on WeChat, this compares with people aged 18-35-years-old which spend just 6.8% of the data on the app.


The findings, from a report by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) not only showcase the changing behaviours of Chinese seniors, it also highlights how using WeChat to target millennials is not the most effective strategy.


While WeChat remains a core pillar in many brands China marketing strategies, this research suggests shifting spend onto other more millennial-focused apps could also provide good results.


Youth focused apps and platforms such as QQ, Weibo, Little Red Book and Douyin are hugely popular with China’s post-90s generation. This generation is not only spending more time on these platforms but is also more likely to engage with brands and complete ecommerce transactions via these sites.


UMS has created a list of the most popular platforms for brands looking to engage with China’s young people.



QQ is WeChat’s youth-focused sister social media network. QQ attracts more than 868 million monthly active users, with more than 662 million accessing the platform via mobile. Despite launching in 1999 as one of China’s first instant messaging and social networking sites, QQ’s use of entertaining features has ensured it remains the platform of choice for China’s young people, generation after generation. More than half (59.6%) of its users are aged between 10 and 29 years of age. These users predominantly hail from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and spend close to four hours every day online.



Short-form video app Douyin, which is called Tik Tok in other markets, has skyrocketed in popularity in China as consumers embraced the 15-second video platform. Described as a mix between Snapchat and, Douyin enables users to create, share and view short videos on social media. In the first quarter of 2018, Douyin was downloaded 45.8 million times and topped the Apple App Store’s global non-game download chart, pushing YouTube and What’s App to second and third place, respectively. It now has more than 150 million daily active users, each of which open the app 4.7 times a day, on average.



Weibo, the short messaging platform which is most often described as China’s Twitter, is hugely popular with millennials and Gen Z. The platform has evolved beyond short messaging to incorporate multimedia features such as video, live streaming and images and is viewed by Chinese as a more open social platform, while WeChat is more personal. Weibo attracts 411 million monthly active users while daily active users reached 184 million in March 2018.


Little Red Book

E-commerce site “Little Red Book” or Xiaohongshu, is an online shopping site which connects overseas merchants with local buyers. The sites monthly active user base of 21 million registered users post images, reviews and opinions of products and the app connects buyers with international merchants selling the products. The site’s users are predominantly young women – 90% of users are women, and 51% are under 30 years.



Zhihu is a social question-and-answer website, similar to Quora, which attracts more than 52 million monthly active users. The online forum site has become the biggest knowledge sharing community in China, with experts and professionals from various industries contributing high-quality insights. Companies and brands can create professional accounts to engage with users and share information. On average, users spend 33 minutes on the site.