China’s Super App

WeChat and more WeChat

A story by Selina Irmen — in collaboration with Chenyin Pan

9 am on a Monday in Shanghai — I’m on my way to work after reading my WeChat messages and looking at the WeChat moments, similar to Instagram stories, that have been published since yesterday evening. On my way I stop, as on so many days, at the small booth where I can buy one “Baozi”, a typical Chinese breakfast. I open WeChat — scan the QR-Code on the wall — type in the amount and it’s paid!

In my favorite Chinese noodle restaurant, where I will be for lunch today, I have to scan the QR-Code on the table to order my food. Today I am going to order Niú Ròu Miàn (engl. Noodles with beef), through WeChat — sure I also pay it directly through the app.

One of my colleagues wants to have Bubble Tea duringthe afternoon. Easy — he just opened WeChat ordered his tea, paid and the tea got delivered to the office while he tracks the driver in real-time (like Uber).

Screenshot of the WeChat Pay Menu

My roommates and I are planning on going to a hotpot restaurant for dinner — the only question is — where should we go? I open WeChat again, use one of the mini-programs, these are apps which are running within the WeChat ecosystem and search for restaurants next to my place. The program also shows me the prices, recommendations, pictures taken by former visitors and I am able to do the reservation in the mini-program — easy-peasy.

After dinner I plan my trip to Beijing in a few days and I begin to look for Train Tickets and Hotels on WeChat. Yes, you can also buy Train Tickets through the app, or hotels or call for a taxi — isn`t that nice?

Think about how many apps you would have used in a day in Germany or Europe or any other place in the world to do all those activities. I realized — WeChat is much more than just a messaging app, like WhatsApp is.

However, the app not only offers a multitude of functions for users. Also, as a company, or special as a marketer, WeChat offers a variety of possibilities. With approximately 900 million active users per day WeChat is the most famous and used app in China.

More on Fireworks? An in-depth interview with one of it top manager

But which functions does WeChat offer?

Social Commerce — you heard about it?!

Already within my first days at work in the Shanghai-based marketing agency Fireworks it became clear to me that everything revolves around the topic of social commerce. Social Commerce means that companies are using networking websites to assist online buying and to sell their products or services. Companies are able to build official accounts, similar to official accounts on Instagram but unlike Instagram, you are able to sell your products directly through WeChat and people don’t have to go out of the app to proceed with the selling process. The communication between the customers as well as the personal relationship between the brand and the customers are the main focus of social commerce. As a user you can interact easily with the accounts of companies as well as get information about benefits, promotions and the products.

Here’s an example — Nike

The American sports brand ran a campaign in China where people were able to take a picture of whatever they wanted, send it to Nike’s WeChat account and create their personal shoes based on the colours of their picture. This is innovative and offers an opportunity to interact with the customer.

What do your contacts like?

You want to know which products, restaurants, drinks or dishes your friends like? — you will love this function called Good Product Circle! This function allows you to first see all your orders that you have done with your app, but then, what’s much more interesting for me is, you can see your friend’s recommendation in real time.

They can also write a reason for their recommendation and you are able to leave a comment or ask a question. Free and organic marketing — this is one of many possibilities WeChat offers to brands. Surely users must first be convinced of the product and then they will share it.

Why is it interesting?

The trade between Europe and China is increasing more and more, which is why Europe should also deal with the possibilities of the Chinese marketing market. Despite the limitations for people who are not Chinese who may want to use all the functions of the app — to know that one platform that combines social, shopping, lifestyle and information is so successful can open our mindsets. More especially for European brands who are thinking about to entering the Chinese market and advertising there, it is important to deal with this super app and the multitude of possibilities it offers.

For me, WeChat is China’s super App which makes my life in China more convenient.

Want to know more about Firework?

This is a story of the Furutist Club

by Science of the Time

Selina Irmen

Written by: Selina Irmen

in collaboration with Chenyin Pan — Director Fireworks China

Selina is working for Fireworks in Shanghai as a Social Media Executive and originally comes from Germany. There she completed her master’s degree in business psychology and decided to expand her professional experience in China. Her current projects at Fireworks including planning management for Sparkle (Fireworks’ CRM solution for foreign brands entering China), as well as consumer behavior studies on China digital.

In collaberation with