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Mobile internet is transforming China: SY Lau, Tencent

  • Of the 1.3 billion people in China, 1.2 billion use mobile
  • There are more than 400 million 3G users in China
  • 42% of consumers’ time spent is on mobile internet in China
  • Mobile internet is not only an extension but disruption: SY Lau

If it was the automobile industry that revolutionised the United States over a century ago, then it is mobile internet that is shaping up one of the most important growth markets today – China. Any conversation around China appears to attract the right kind of attention – there is interest in any remote insight in the market and there is also the reckoning that China is not a simple market to play in. However, brands from China, that now understand the pulse of the market, are poised to record phenomenal growth. One vindication of this is seen in Tencent’s achievements globally.

Elaborating on some of the market insights, and the importance of media such as mobile in the dominant digital ecosystem in China, Seng Yee Lau, President of Online Media Group of Tencent and Sr EVP of Tencent Holdings, stated that in China, mobile has impacted many businesses, beyond the realm of technology sectors.

“China is the largest mobile nation and the most advanced technology driven country in the world. Mobile has contributed significantly to this. It would be a shame if we allowed mobile marketing to be like Milan fashion that comes and goes. It is important to understand how mobile fits in the consumer behaviour trends we are witnessing in China,” explained Mr Lau.

There are various growth drivers contributing to the digital and mobile growth in China. This begins with the commitment from the Government of China towards infrastructure and creating the right ecosystem to the combination of smartphones availability and robust app innovation and finally the continued demand seen in the market.

“Of the 1.3 billion people in China, 1.2 billion use mobile. There are more than 400 million 3G users in China. China leads the world in mobile and mobile internet is the most important media in China,” added Mr Lau. According to Mobile Internet Users in China, 42 per cent of consumers’ time spent is on mobile internet, followed by 29 per cent on PC internet and 17 per cent on TV.

Mobile is not just creating value but has become the decision making tool for consumers. “Mobile internet is not only an extension but disruption,” said Mr Lau.

Redefining the role of a brand in a mobile world
Mr Lau explained that as mobile had overturned everyone’s life with its capability to connect. As internet evolved to play the role of services from mere information and marketing methods evolved from interactive marketing to mobile marketing, the role of the brand also evolved from a persuader to ‘enabler’.

This change is the first significant trend of mobile marketing. The second, according to Mr Lau, was transactional marketing becoming the new king. Media is growing to becoming cash point than just touch points. The final trend was the distribution of mass customisation. In a decentralised world that we live in, the new marketing logic is being customer oriented and the need of the hour is agility.

The immense potential of what can be achieved from mobile marketing faces three key challenges – privacy, lack of multiscreen measurement and shortage of talent. Mr Lau believes that the solutions lie with the industry. “We have to be self disciplined in respecting the consumer’s privacy. We have to work towards transparency and developing a currency and we have to be hybrid in both marketing and technology,” he stated.

Mr Lau was speaking at the MMA Forum in Singapore on May 22, 2014. Digital Market Asia is MMA’s media partner at the forum.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.