Mobile messaging service WeChat is by far the No. 1 chat app for users in China, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast of worldwide mobile messaging users.
This year, more than 494 million people in China are expected to use the app at least once per month, with 84.5% of all mobile phone messaging app users in the country on the platform.
WeChat’s dominance in a market that effectively skipped email and went straight to instant messenging creates huge opportunity for marketers. eMarketer estimates that more than 585 million individuals in China will use a mobile messaging app this year—equivalent to 75.8% of all internet users.
WeChat, known as Weixin in China, was created by Chinese tech giant Tencent in 2011 and expanded overseas the following year. The app has since grown in scope and has transformed the way users in China live their day-to-day lives. Aside from sending messages, users can order food, transfer money and book airline tickets on the app. In addition, WeChat also functions as a social media platform, where users can post pictures, videos and articles.
Unsurprisingly, smartphone users are often WeChat users. eMarketer expects 79.1% of smartphone users in China to use WeChat this year.
“WeChat is by far the most advanced mobile messaging app worldwide in terms of its functionality and the services it offers users and businesses,” said Cathy Boyle, eMarketer’s principal analyst of mobile. “Where the app falls short is in its global reach. However, for businesses interested in marketing products and services in China—and increasingly to Chinese people living or traveling abroad—WeChat is the best messaging app to use.”