The Internet in China continues to be dominated by entertainment, especially video. But there is growing usage in e-commerce, community-oriented, and information activities. The eight segments, however, do not participate in these activities equally. (See Exhibit 3.)
Younger users tend to spend more time online but, other than young professionals, are not yet spending large sums of money online. Middle-aged users spend less time online than their younger peers, who grew up with the Internet. The willingness of middle-agers to experiment online rises with education. Although seniors and rural residents have been largely overlooked and are newer to the online world, they are rapidly making the Internet a part of their lives.
Teenagers. Teenagers are big fans of IM and all forms of online entertainment. Like their older peers in college, they are also starting to use such services as Sina Weibo to communicate with friends. They spend 2.6 hours a day online—the lowest among all the segments.
University Students. More than any other segment, university students use the Internet to communicate with friends and family and to build online communities. They are the heaviest users of IM and, along with young professionals, the most active users of weibo, devoting 1.4 hours a week to this service. Despite limited disposable income, they spend 2.1 hours a week shopping online—the third-highest total among the segments. Nearly all university students are online at least monthly.
Young Professionals. Members of this segment are online the most and are the most adventurous. The average user spends 3.9 hours a week watching online videos, 3.2 hours on IM, and 2.6 hours shopping online. Young professionals spend the greatest amount of time on e-commerce, leading or tying other segments in every individual activity except for stock trading, where they are beaten by the active-middle-aged segment and seniors. Like university students, nearly all young professionals log on to the Internet at least monthly. (See “A Day in the Life of a Young Professional.”)
Young Seekers. Members of this segment are the same age as young professionals but are less educated and have lower incomes. They are the heaviest users of online entertainment services, especially videos and games, but their online lives are much richer than just movies and fun. Young seekers spend more time reading news online and conducting online searches than any other segment.
They are also the second-most-active online shoppers. Responsible for 28 percent of all Internet hours, they are a group to be reckoned with.
Active Middle-Agers. While these users spend less time online than young professionals, they have similar usage patterns, with entertainment and community their two largest categories of online activity. They like to shop, trade stocks, and conduct banking online but are not yet big users of online search, compared with other segments. Along with the senior segment, they spend the most time per
week on e-mail.
Moderate Middle-Agers. This segment is demographically analogous to the young-seeker segment. These users have less income and education than active middle-agers, but—unlike their younger peers—the gravitational pull of the Internet is much weaker for them. Their daily average usage of 3.3 hours is lower than all segments except teenagers and rural residents. As a share of total time online, they are relatively active online shoppers and readers of online news.
Seniors. You can call them senior, but don’t call them unsophisticated. Of the eight segments, they spend the most time reading news online—four hours a week. They also spend more time trading stocks online than active middle-agers. (In interviews and focus groups, they say that their children frequently help them with this activity.) The Internet allows them to stay in touch with their children and grandchildren through IM and email. (See “Gray and Getting Used to the Internet.”)
Rural Residents. Although rural residents are relatively light users, their three hours a day online are not put to waste. The Internet enables them to access goods and services that otherwise would be out of reach. They like to shop online and they spend more time than any other segment, except young seekers, playing online games—about 2.8 hours a week. They are also big users of IM. (See “Basic Necessities.”)