Marketers around the world should be prepared to welcome WeChat as the new marketing channel platform in the nearest future. The all-in-one super app is already dominating the world's second largest economy and is now looking to take a larger grip on the international market.
Western vs. Eastern messaging platforms
Tencent is now the 10th largest company in the world and is challenging well-known messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and Line. The difference is that WeChat can do so much more. It acts as a messaging platform, but also features e-commerce, social media, gaming, and payment systems.
The consumers use it to communicate with friends and family, order food, book a taxi, pay bills and make transactions online and offline. Needless to say, the app is an integrated part of the everyday life of Chinese consumers, as it contributes to a seamless lifestyle.
135 million Chinese travellers
The number of Chinese tourists is increasing every year. According to UNWTO there were 135 million Chinese overseas travellers in 2016. They also typically spend considerable amounts of money abroad on goods and services, which of course makes them an attractive target group for many retailers.
Many retailers are therefore focusing on enhancing customer experience for Chinese consumers by having Chinese-speaking staff, marketing materials in Chinese and implementing Chinese traditions such as lucky cat and Chinese zodiac. Some restaurants even offer Chinese menus for those with limited knowledge of English.
Ambitions to obtain international success
Financial technology in China is highly advanced and physical wallets are for the most part replaced by smartphones. WeChat Pay and Alipay are the dominant players in the Chinese market and have gained trust and credibility amongst Chinese consumers. WeChat Pay is available in 15 countries and regions for payment in 12 currencies, while Alipay is present in over 100K offline stores in 26 countries.
One way for international retailers to attract WeChat users and Chinese tourists is by adapting to their practice and provide a seamless and user-friendly payment transaction. If they decide do this, the app will naturally gain even more users, which helps Tencent expand internationally.
The remaining question is how valuable the Chinese tourists are in the eyes of international retailers. Are they willing to adapt to the tourists’ habits in order to provide a seamless and trustworthy transaction?
What is certain is that Tencent has big ambitions for WeChat Pay. They have even partnered up with Silicon Valley-based mobile payment startup company Citcon, who will have the exciting task of introducing WeChat Pay (and Alipay) to the North American market.