Digital 2021: The evolution of the digital landscape in China 

Today we have launched Digital 2021: China, part of our series of annual global digital reports (check out our global report, Digital 2021, if you haven’t seen it already). This is a comprehensive report covering digital, social, and mobile use in China.  


The number of active social media users here in China rose by 110 million in 2020, a 13% increase - we now have 931 million social media users in the country. In contrast with most other markets, dominated by brands like YouTube and Facebook, our homegrown networks are by far the most popular, with Weixin, Sina Weibo, and Kuaishou drawing the highest number of users.

Note: As of 31st of Dec, 2020, Tencent Weibo has been shut down.

In contrast with the majority of other countries, however, the amount of time internet users spent online in 2020 fell significantly – down 28 minutes on the previous year to an average of 5 hours 22 minutes. There was also a slight decline in time spent on social media by internet users aged 16-64, with the average of 2 hours 4 minutes being eight minutes lower than in 2019.

Other key findings in Digital 2021: China include: 

  • Douyin topped the list of mobile apps by consumer spend in Apple’s AppStore in 2020 and was the second most downloaded of all mobile apps
  • Internet users in the 55-64 age group are as keen on e-commerce as their younger counterparts, with 77% having purchased something online in the past month compared to 78% in the 25-34 age group
  • Annual e-commerce spending on travel and accommodation was down by 52%, while the value of the digital ride-hailing market shrank by 44%. In contrast, annual e-commerce spend in the toys, DIY & hobbies category rose by 31% in 2020 and the value of the online food delivery market was up by 28%
  • The total value of digital ad spend in China rose by 10% to more than $79 billion, as 36% of Chinese internet users aged 16-64 said they use search engines as their primary channel for brand research, and 34% turning to social media for this information

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