According to governmental statistics, China’s internet population grew last year by 23.4 percent to 137 million people. At the current rate of growth, Chinese online users will outnumber the 210 million users in the United States by 2009. However, with half of the Chinese users accessing the Internet via computers in Internet cafes, marketers targeting the Chinese market should take a second look at these users.
Vital Wave Consulting, a management consultancy that analyzes the needs and opportunities for technology in developing-country markets, is advising companies to take a second look at the Chines users. Brooke Partridge, the company’s founder and principal consultant says, “Without doubt, China is a considerable current and future market opportunity for many technology companies, but to tap into that market, business managers have to evaluate market data in the context of their own business model.”
Brooke Partridge recently pointed out that in China there is an large gap between Internet users and computer ownership. The Chinese government reports that there are 140 million internet users in China. But, although these users are accessing the Internet they aren’t necessarily in a position to purchase something. So, these users won’t “convert” to sales, and that’s an important part of Search Engine Marketing.
If you’re a search engine marketer and target the Chinese market or you’re thinking about targeting the Chinese market, then take a second look: there’s a big problem with PC ownership in China. PC ownership is growing in China, but currently it’s only a third of the United States total. This means that only a small percentage of Chinese online users will have much disposable income or access to financial mechanisms like credit cards for online purchases.
According to Vital Wave Consulting, Google may be in one of the best positions to take advantage of a shared-use PC environment. In addition to the ad-based revenues from its search engine, the company’s nascent online productivity software suite may be more attractive to shared-use consumers than Microsoft’s Office. Online software and storage would relieve consumers from the burden of carrying (and possibly losing) a storage device, while settings would be consistent from machine to machine, Internet cafe to school lab or workplace.
I’m not recommending that Search Engine Marketers stay away from the Chinese market. It’s important to be aware of the fact that most online users in China don’t own their PC. So, when deciding whether or not to target the Chinese users, you take this into account; it appears that there’s a possible opportunity to sell online software and storage to these users.