WeChat Made Addicted Users Go Cold Turkey For 12 Hours and Filmed Everything

For individuals outdoors China, it could possibly be obscure how restricted of the grasp the WeChat app has on people’s lives. The common user despatched 74 messages a day on the application, WeChat mum or dad firm Tencent Holdings explained previous yr. Fifty percent of end users spent about 90 minutes each day making use of it.

WeChat is only six yrs old, but with 889 million regular energetic consumers, it’s remodeled just how persons in China interact, do business enterprise, go through the information, purchase issues and pay out their expenses. It just did a bit experiment to see what takes place when persons are pressured to log out for 12 hours.

Tencent worked with Saatchi & Saatchi Guangzhou to film 6 short documentaries about the experience of persons going cold turkey. The videos seem designed to remind individuals of how much they rely on WeChat, while encouraging them to disconnect sometimes to have more authentic human experiences. Yes, the enterprise is apparently encouraging folks to think about what WeChat addiction is doing to their lives.

That’s perhaps a sign of how confident WeChat is that everybody’s already hooked.

One of the documentaries shows a young couple in constant contact via WeChat. “Without WeChat issues wouldn’t have moved so fast,” the woman says. That’s a thought-provoking but debatable point, since they’re shown in bed together peering into their respective smartphones.

Deprived of WeChat, they argue, walk their pet rabbit, go to a café and stare at their smartphones (they still have their phones, just not WeChat.) But when the 12 hours are up, the woman gets curious and jealous about who her boyfriend is texting. That relationship didn’t make it, according to a release from Saatchi, but their situation must have struck a chord, because the video got around 1 million views.

Before persons log off the app, there are some cringeworthy (and at times familiar) scenes of WeChat addiction. A 5-year-old pleads with his mom to put down her WeChat and read through him a book. An older woman stays in bed playing with her phone, even when her husband asks her to eat breakfast with him. An exhausted, ill real estate agent scrolls through her messages while hooked to an IV. She’s always on, fearing that she’ll miss a message from a client and lose a sale. But points were even harder for her without the application for 12 several hours: She hit the street with real estate brochures, bundled up against the cold and dealing with constant rejection.

On a personal note: When I got a message about the experiment, I made a tally of every time I used the application for the past twelve hours. I paid for a Starbucks latte; did a group obtain of wine; logged in at a company lunch conference and made new connections there; and booked tickets to determine “Beauty and the Beast” with my kids. I read through two news stories shared by contacts, including one about WeChat mother or father Tencent buying a 5% stake in Tesla. I sent and received dozens of text messages, personal and professional, indulging in the occasional laughing-crying smiley or heart emoji. During all that time, I was served only one ad, from Canon. WeChat helped the ad revenues of its parent business grow significantly, but it still puts customer experience first.

What brands do Chinese consumers consider most relevant to their life? Payment platform Alipay and all-purpose mobile app WeChat top a new ranking based on a survey of nearly 10,000 consumers by brand and marketing consultancy Prophet.

Both Alipay, an affiliate of Chinese online giant Alibaba Group, and WeChat, an app created by another Chinese internet corporation, Tencent, are global leaders in digital innovation. They’re also services consumers use every day in mobile-savvy China.

Many brands have entered in Chinese e-commerce platform already

The other top names on Prophet’s China list were Visa, Marriott, Uber, Ford, Adidas, Alibaba online shopping platform Tmall.com, Volkswagen and Ikea. Eighteen local Chinese brands appeared in the top 50.

Prophet began measuring brand relevance about a calendar year ago in the United States and expanded its survey this 12 months to China, the U.K. and Germany. It polled about 10,000 consumers in China’s tier 1 and 2 cities, the most cosmopolitan areas, to get their take on more than 275 brands. The survey, which consumers answered online in June, centered on four categories: how customer-obsessed brands are, how innovative, how pragmatic and how inspired they are in creating emotional connections and earning trust.

Alipay and WeChat were strong performers in categories across the board. Alipay, sometimes compared to Apple Pay back or Paypal, is ubiquitous in China. Folks use it to shop online and in stores and restaurants, and it’s expanding fast beyond China to merchants targeting Chinese travelers. WeChat, meanwhile, also offers a payment service; its messaging service has largely replaced texting, and people today also use it to spend utility expenses, order takeout, shop and book hotel rooms and hospital appointments.

There were quite a few surprises in Prophet’s China list. While the consultancy’s U.S. survey includes brands like Clorox, Hershey’s, Betty Crocker and Ziploc in the top 50, in China there were no everyday household brands, and many names around the list were aspirational, from Audi to Shangri-La hotels. There was also a lack of food or beverage brands in the top 50 — Starbucks, which is growing fast in China, didn’t appear.There’s a huge drive for healthiness in China,” explained Jay Milliken, senior partner at Prophet’s Hong Kong office. “There are two categories, fast food and sugary beverages, that did very poorly in China. And they did badly across the globe.”

Visa came in at №3, but the Chinese payment card solution, Unionpay, was №13. Unionpay is widely used in China but perhaps isn’t perceived as international.

Uber, oddly, came in at №5, and China’s local ride-hailing giant, Didi, was №75. That may be because Didi is perceived as an Uber copy. The two were locked in a price war in China until Didi announced in August that it was buying Uber’s China operations.

And while an emissions scandal rocked Volkswagen a yr ago in the U.S., that hasn’t apparently dented its brand in China, where it came in at №9. That could partly be because there’s less awareness of the scandal in China. The company’s sales are also going strong in China: Its deliveries were up 11.4% in China in the first nine months of the year, though they dropped twelve.5% in the U.S.

One of the brands that didn’t make the top 50 — China’s Xiaomi, which makes smartphones and other consumer tech gadgets — is a cautionary tale about the need to be relentlessly relevent, Mr. Milliken mentioned.

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