Just starting to evaluate the possibility of launching a WeChat mini-program to stay on top of the latest Chinese marketing trends? There’s already a new player in town that hopes to substitute WeChat mini-programs, and it’s backed by all of China’s largest smartphone manufacturers, as well as the Chinese government’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Much like WeChat’s mini-programs, the new standard is an “instant” app alternative to traditional apps from marketplaces like Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store—and a direct competitor to WeChat’s offering.
For China marketers, the introduction of once another essentially China-exclusive digital marketing channel may seem frustrating as it’s already challenging enough to stay on top of WeChat and its many marketing offerings, China-compliant websites, not to mention up-and-coming social media trends like live-streaming—while also retaining a presence across more traditional marketing channels like Weibo and Baidu.
However, with a new standard also comes a new opportunity to gain early adopter advantage. It’s difficult (or expensive) to make noise on Weibo and WeChat, with both platforms crowded with brands and influencers all trying to engage an increasingly desensitized online population. The same rings true for app marketplaces like the App Store and Play Store (the latter of which is banned in China). It takes a lot of effort and budget to convince users to download a new app. An exciting new—and less crowded—marketplace could make things a little bit easier, at least in the early stages.
A business alliance consisting of Xiaomi, ZTE, Huawei, Gionee, Lenovo, Meizu, Nubia, OPPO, Vivo, OnePlus, and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology hopes that a new standard will address just that.