How China has the ‘next big thing’ in the palm of its hand

This year we have a group of Young Lions reporting live from the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. They’ll be bringing us all the breaking news as it happens.

In Byron Sharp’s talk ‘What if everyone is doing it wrong?’ he referenced the current trend of innovation. We are constantly on a relentless pursuit for the next movement that will solve our problems or create new joys; viral videos, virtual reality, user generated content, to name a few. Cases of whiplash have increased tenfold over the past 10 years from vigorous searches for the next big thing (I joke).

This was interesting to consider when hearing about China’s number one software company, Tencent. By analysing the mobile lifestyle of the Chinese consumer, they created a software that satisfies all of their needs. With convenience in mind, they were inspired by apps that were already popular in the western world, revolving around functionality or improving communication.

To simplify instant messaging, with the over 60s in mind, they created an easy walky-talky voice record feature in their app WeChat, similar to Whatsapp. To meet the needs of millennials, often travelling away from home, they created a feature similar to ‘Find My Friends’ and ‘Happn’ to aid mingling in a new city.

They eased complicated public service requirements like renewing their passports and paying bills and users can easily transfer money to friends. Simply scanning a QR code allows them to pay for a tea in a high street cafe.

In addition, Tencent identified a cultural moment that could be upgraded to the digital world. Every Chinese New Year, red envelopes (red symbolising luck) containing money are received from family and friends. To add a share of life element to their billing and payment feature, Tencent provided the ‘red packet’ so that they can virtually deliver their New Year tradition.

Creating a loyal base of users, with 97% of them using the service 10 times per day and one-third visiting 20 times per day, Tencent now has reams of data on their user base’s interests and purchase behaviours, providing unlimited targeting opportunities. Through a quick service update, users can experience their version of the ‘next big thing’, making it easy for Tencent to ensure that they are always current, relevant and innovative – eliminating potential threats from other emerging themes in the mobile market.



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